Step 5: The final PFA hearing
A judge will set a hearing date that is generally within 10 days of filing your petition.1 The abuser has the right to be present for this hearing. You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your ex parte PFA order will expire, and you will have to start the process over.
If the abuser received notice of the hearing, but does not show up, the judge may issue a “default judgment” and grant you a PFA order or the judge may set a new hearing date and extend your ex parte PFA order until the date of your new hearing.2
At the hearing, you will testify in court and you can present other evidence or witnesses to prove the abuse you have experienced. The abuser will also be allowed to testify in the hearing. The judge will make a decision after hearing all of the testimony and considering all of the evidence.
It is recommended that you bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. For legal referrals, go to our Finding a Lawyer page. If you show up to court and you need more time to find a lawyer, or the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a “continuance” to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. If you will be representing yourself, go to our Preparing for Court - By Yourself page for tips on how to represent yourself.
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-6(a)
2 Ala. Code § 30-5-6(c)