19-13A-3. Petitions and pleadings; orders; hearings; relief
(a) Upon the filing of a verified petition in which the petitioner alleges with specific facts that probable cause exists to establish that dating violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the court may order such temporary relief ex parte as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner from dating violence. If the court issues an ex parte order, a copy of the order shall be immediately furnished to the petitioner and such order shall remain in effect until the court issues an order dismissing such order or a hearing as set forth in subsection (b) of this Code section occurs, whichever occurs first.
(b) Within ten days of the filing of the petition under this chapter or as soon as practical thereafter, but not later than 30 days after the filing of the petition, a hearing shall be held at which the petitioner must prove the allegations of the petition by a preponderance of the evidence as in other civil cases. In the event a hearing cannot be scheduled within the county where the case is pending within the 30 day period, the same shall be scheduled and heard within any other county of that circuit. If a hearing is not held within 30 days of the filing of the petition, the petition shall stand dismissed unless the parties otherwise agree.
(c) Social service agency staff members designated by the court may explain to all petitioners not represented by counsel the procedures for filling out and filing all forms and pleadings necessary for the presentation of their petition to the court. The clerk of the court may provide forms for petitions and pleadings to petitioners and to any other person designated by the superior court pursuant to this Code section as authorized to advise petitioners on filling out and filing such petitions and pleadings. The clerk shall not be required to provide assistance to persons in completing such forms or in presenting their case to the court. Any assistance provided pursuant to this Code section shall be performed without cost to the petitioners. The performance of such assistance shall not constitute the practice of law as defined in Code Section 15-19-51.
(d) If the court finds a party is avoiding service to delay a hearing, the court may delay dismissal of the petition for an additional 30 days.