Step 5: The hearing
A hearing will be generally be held within 20 days from the date you file your petition.1 At the hearing, a judge will decide whether or not to issue a final order of protection, which may be permanent or for a specified amount of time.
The abuser may request an emergency hearing before the end of the 20-day period by filing an affidavit stating that s/he has an urgent need for the emergency hearing. An emergency hearing is like a regular hearing, but it’s scheduled for an earlier date. An emergency hearing must be set within 3 working days of the filing of the affidavit.2 You will be notified if an emergency hearing is scheduled.
You must go to the hearing, whether it is an emergency hearing or the scheduled hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order of protection will expire and you will have to start the process over. Also, if you do not show up at the hearing, it may be more difficult for you to obtain an order in the future.
At the court hearing, the judge will evaluate any evidence, testimony and witnesses presented by each party and decide whether or not to issue the final order.
If the abuser shows up to the hearing with a lawyer, you may be able to ask the court for a “continuance,” which means a later court date. You can ask for this extra time so that you can try to find a lawyer to help you. If the abuser does not show up at the hearing, the judge may grant you a final order of protection, or the judge may order a new hearing date.
1 Mont. Code § 40-15-201
2 Mont. Code § 40-15-202(2)