Going to the Hearing

On the day of the court hearing, bring a copy of the Petition and, if they haven't already been submitted for the file, the notarized Affidavit of Service (if the Court didn't serve the papers on the Respondent) and any documents that may be important in the case, such as, old court orders, photographs, police reports, receipts, bank statements, and school records.


Who Will Be There

If possible, try not to bring children to court. Some courthouses have a Children's Center, but you can only leave a child there while you are in the courtroom.

Most Family Court hearings are in front of a judge. Support magistrates hear support and paternity cases. There are no juries in Family Court. The judge or support magistrate will listen to both sides and decide the case.

Family Court is generally open to the public, but the judge or support magistrate has the power to exclude the public from the courtroom depending on the nature of the case and the privacy interests for those involved.


Where to Go

When you get to court, go to the "part." The part number is the number of the judge's courtroom. The part number might be on the Summons. Depending on the courthouse, there might a waiting room. Check in and tell the court officer that you're there and ready. If you're not sure where to go, ask a court officer.

If you are afraid of seeing the other side in court, notify a court officer as soon as you arrive. They can arrange for you to wait somewhere else or keep the other side away from you. You can bring a friend, relative, or an advocate to court for support.

When your case is called, you will go in front of the judge to explain your case. Be prepared to explain your case simply and clearly. The judge may ask questions or make comments. It may take several hearing for the judge or support magistrate to make a decision and issue an Order.


If You Can't Go to the Hearing

If you can't make your scheduled court date, contact the court to let them know that you will not be able to attend the court date. If you don't show up on your court date and the court doesn't know why, the judge can still make a decision and issue an order anyway. If you are the Petitioner, the person who started the case, the judge may close the case.

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