Step 4: Full court hearing
On the day of the hearing, you must go to the hearing to ask to have your temporary (ex parte) order turned into a permanent restraining order, which will last for up to one year unless the judge orders a different amount of time. If you were not granted a temporary (ex parte) order but a hearing date was set, you must go to the full hearing if you want to ask the court for a permanent restraining order.1
Before going in front of the judge on your hearing day, you and the abuser must meet separately with a Family Relations Counselor (FRC) from the Court Support Services Division. There will be a sign-up sheet in the area of the courthouse where the FRC has the meetings and a Judicial Marshal can tell you where that is. The FRC will ask for information about any existing court orders, possession of firearms or permits, history of the relationship, and information on child-related matters. The FRC may make recommendations and may refer you to other agencies for other services. At the end of the meeting, you and the abuser will go to the courtroom to wait for your hearing.1
At this hearing, you and the abuser will both have a chance to present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc., to prove your case to the judge. Note: If the victim/applicant is a minor and his/her parent, guardian or another responsible adult (“next friend”) has filed the application for the restraining order on his/her behalf, that parent/guardian/next friend cannot speak on the minor applicant’s behalf at the hearing unless s/he can show “good cause” as to why the minor applicant is unable to speak on his/her own behalf. However, the parent, guardian or responsible adult can testify as a witness at the hearing.2
See our At the Hearing page for tips on what to expect at a restraining order hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary (ex parte) restraining order may expire. If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a permanent restraining order if there is proof that s/he was properly served, or the judge may reschedule the hearing.
It may be helpful to have a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer or if you were not able to find a lawyer in time for your hearing, you can ask the judge for a “continuance” (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer – and it will be up to the judge to decide whether or not to postpone the hearing. Go to our CT Finding a Lawyer for free and paid legal referrals.
If you are granted a restraining order by the judge, a copy of the order(s) will be given or mailed to the abuser by the clerk of the court. The clerk will also send a copy of the order(s) or the information in the order(s) to law enforcement within forty-eight hours so that they are notified.1