WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information

Before the Trial

View all

How should I prepare for the first appearance?

Although the case is just beginning, it’s helpful to think about what you are asking for in a final outcome for your case and whether it might be possible to get that outcome with a settlement agreement. It is important to come to the first appearance knowing what you are asking for in terms of a final resolution because it will set the course for the entire course case. You should also know if you want to have a temporary order in place while the court case is pending and what terms (provisions) may be appropriate. If a settlement is not reached, the judge will primarily focus on matters like advising the parties of their rights, scheduling future court dates, possibly arranging discovery, and issuing any temporary orders, if necessary.

It’s important to research what your potential options are beforehand so that you know what you can ask for when you are in front of the judge. In our Know the Laws – By State section, we have information on what kind of relief may be available in various types of court cases. For example, if you would like to see the abuser pay restitution or be ordered into some kind of rehabilitation program, you may need to request this in your petition and clarify what you are seeking at the first appearance so that the judge knows. Except in protection order cases or other ex parte proceedings, the abuser also has a chance to appear at the first appearance. We have information about Safety in Court to help you prepare for your court day.