What to Expect in Court

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In California, DV Restraining Order hearings take place in a courtroom in front of a judge, commissioner, or other appointed officer of the court. In the same courtroom there will also be a court clerk Opens new window and a bailiff, Opens new window and usually other people in the room. For example, there may be people waiting for their case to be heard.

Special Note:  The following are general guidelines.  The actual rules may be different in each court, so learn your county's local rules of court on trial procedures.

  • To find your county's court website, click here. Opens new window


When your DV Restraining Order case is called, if both the person seeking protection and the person to be restrained are present, they are to go up to the tables in front of the judge.

  • For information about what happens if the person seeking protection
    IS NOT present
    , click here.
  • For information about what happens if the person to be restrained
    IS NOT present
    , click here.

To view a short video called “Tips on Going to Court”, click here. Opens new window

NOTE: There may be more than one court hearing before the case
is settled.

At the beginning of the hearing, the judge will ask each person involved to give his or her name for the court record. Opens new window

Then, the judge will listen to both sides of the story in this order:

  • Because this hearing is the result of a person seeking protection, he or she will be asked to tell his or her side of the story first. He or she may present facts on each of the contested issues, and introduce documents.
  • If the person seeking protection has witnesses (and has served and filed a witness list), the judge will hear these witnesses next.
  • The person to be restrained should not interrupt the person seeking protection when they are speaking. However, when they are finished he or she has a chance to ask questions of the protected person or witnesses.
  • Next it is the turn of the person to be restrained to tell his or her side of the story by presenting facts on each of the contested issues, and introducing documents.
  • If the person to be restrained has witnesses (and has served and filed a witness list), the judge will hear those witnesses next
  • Again, the person seeking protection should not interrupt the person to be restrained when they are speaking. However, when they are finished he or she has a chance to ask questions of the person to be restrained or the witnesses.

The judge may ask anyone any questions at anytime. He or she will examine the evidence, and then make a decision about whether to issue Permanent Restraining Orders based on many considerations, including:

  • the relationship between the two parties;
  • the history of abuse.

At the end of the hearing, the judge may:

  • decide to grant all of the Orders the person seeking protection requested;
  • decide to grant some of the Orders the person seeking protection requested;
  • decide not to grant any Restraining Orders at all;
  • tell those present that he or she will decide the case later (perhaps after reviewing the evidence in more detail.)

It is the responsibility of the person seeking protection to fill in the:

  • Restraining Orders After Hearing (Form DV-130) Opens new window

When it is completed correctly and the judge has made a decision, he or she will sign the court Orders clearly stating what that decision is.

ALERT! The case is not finished yet. See After the Court Hearing.

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