Step 5: The final hearing
The judge will hold a hearing within 30 days of the date you filed your petition or within 10 days of when the defendant/abuser was served, whichever occurs later. The hearing can be extended for an additional 10 days upon the request of either party if there is good cause to do so.1
Note: New Hampshire law allows a judge to consider any evidence that the judge believes is relevant and important. Unlike other court hearings and trials, the judge is not bound by the technical rules of evidence in a protective order hearing.2
If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire (if you were granted one). If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a protective order, or s/he may reschedule the hearing. If you cannot go to the hearing at the scheduled time, you may call the court to ask that your case be “continued,” but the judge may deny your request.
You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a “continuance” (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer. To find a lawyer or legal services program in your area, please visit our NH Finding a Lawyer page. You can also represent yourself in court. See our At the Hearing section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.
1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(VII)(a),(b)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(VIII)