Step 4: The hearing
Your hearing will generally take place within 15 days from the time you file the petition. You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your preliminary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If you do not show up at the hearing, it may be harder for you to get a protective order in the future.
If the abuser has received notice of the hearing, but does not show up, the judge will most likely continue with the hearing without the abuser present. The judge may, however, decide to reissue the preliminary protective order and schedule a new hearing.
You have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing if you can get a lawyer to represent you. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a continuance to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. For legal referrals, see our VA Finding a Lawyer page. See our At the Hearing page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.