What if the other party doesn’t come to the court hearing?
The court may order something called a capias, which is a civil arrest order.
What happens on the hearing date?
If the calendar is called, which means all the cases scheduled for that day are called out loud:
If you and the other party have a written agreement, say “ready with an agreement” when your case is called.
If you and the other party do not have a written agreement, say “ready” so the court knows you are there. You will then meet with Family Services, also called Family Relations, in their office in the courthouse. The Family Services Counselor can help you work out an agreement and put it in writing.
If the calendar is not called:
If you and the other party have a written agreement, ask the clerk for a Memo to the Clerk form. Fill out this form to show the court you are ready to tell the judge about your agreement. You should check the box that says “ready with an agreement.”
If you and the other party do not have an agreement, look for your name and the courtroom location on a list posted in the courthouse lobby. There should also be a list available for you to sign up to meet with Family Services. The Family Services Counselor can help you work out a written agreement.
Some courthouses require that parties in every case meet with Family Services whether there is an agreement or not. You may wish to check with the Clerk’s Office beforehand to see what the rule is in your particular courthouse.
Do I have to agree with Family Services' recommendations?
You don’t have to accept Family Services' recommendations. If there is no agreement, you have the right to present your case to the judge and to let the judge decide.
The judge may or may not agree with you. You need to obey the judge’s orders, even if you disagree with them.
What happens when I am in the courtroom before the judge?
Say “ready” when your name is called. You will then stand at one of the tables in front of the judge’s bench. Follow the judge’s instructions. Do not approach the judge’s bench or witness stand unless the judge tells you.
The clerk will have you swear to tell the truth.
You will have to prove that the other party disobeyed the order, so be prepared to say exactly how you think the order was disobeyed. Bring proof if you have any.
The judge will ask you questions. If you don’t understand a question, tell the judge.
When you finish, the other party will have a chance to speak. The other party may want to ask you questions, too.
You will have a chance to ask the other party questions. You will also have a chance to ask any witnesses questions.
When will the judge decide my case?
The judge may decide the case at the end of the hearing and announce the orders while you are still there. Or the judge may take more time to make a decision. The clerk will mail you a copy of the orders once the judge decides. If you haven’t heard from the court in a few days, call the Clerk’s Office to ask about your case.
Will the judge make a contempt order?
If you are able to prove the other party willfully violated a court order, the judge will usually give the other party a chance to comply with whatever part of the order was violated. If the other party doesn’t comply, the judge can order imprisonment until he or she does comply, but this doesn’t usually happen unless everything else fails.
The judge can write an order holding the other party in contempt and specifying how he or she can comply. The judge may order that the person obeys the court order right away, or they may be given time to comply. Some grounds for no jail time are: no one to care for dependent children, possible loss of his or her job, and physical or emotional disabilities.