Step 5: The hearing
It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your ex parte order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date.
If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the court may issue a “default judgment” against him/her and you may receive a full protective order in his/her absence. The judge also may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court. If this happens, be sure to ask the judge to extend your ex parte order if you have one.
At the hearing, you may have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove the abuse and harassment you have experienced. The abuser may also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing to defend himself/herself. You may want to get a lawyer to represent you at that hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one. See the UT Finding a Lawyer page for a listing of free and paid lawyers. If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, you can visit our At the Hearing section 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.