TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER HEARING

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Preparing for a protective order hearing.

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The parties.

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There are two sides to any protective order case. On one side there is the "petitioner." The petitioner is the person asking for a protective order. On the other side is the "defendant." The defendant is the alleged abuser. The defendant is the target of the protection order the petitioner is trying to get from the court.

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The petitioner may get something called a " TRO " (Temporary Restraining Order) without getting the defendant to come to court. The TRO only lasts until the day when the parties are scheduled for the full hearing about the Protective Order.

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Who can get a Title 46 Protective Order ? A Title 46 Protective Order depends on what kind of relationship or connection there is between the petitioner and the defendant. These Orders apply to the following relationships :

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Current or former spouses, meaning people who are or were married to one another. Current or former unmarried intimate cohabitants, meaning people who were living together like husband and wife yet they were not actually married. Child, stepchild, or foster child. Current or former dating partner. Child of defendant’s current or former intimate partner. Parent, stepparent, or foster parent. Grandparent or grandchild .

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What Evidence is Required to obtain a Title 46 Protective Order ?

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To obtain a protective order, you must prove the allegations you made in your Petition for Protection from Abuse. To prove your case, you may bring witnesses to testify on your behalf, and you may present evidence such as photos of any injuries or damage to property you may have sustained, copies of medical records, any threatening notes or messages you may have received, etc.

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To prevent your case from turning into a “he said, she said” case, it is extremely important to bring your witnesses or whatever evidence you have to prove your case on the day of the scheduled hearing .

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Your witnesses cannot testify after the hearing has been concluded. The Hearing Officer will not make telephone calls to your witnesses to verify your testimony.

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Cell phones with cameras are not allowed in the courthouse. If your evidence is on your cell phone you may request permission from the Hearing Officer to bring your phone through the security system. The Hearing Officer’s recommendation is based upon the testimony and evidence presented at the time of the protective order hearing.

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What to Expect at your Hearing

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In the courthouse elevator a sign will be posted which directs you to the appropriate courtroom for protective order hearings.

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The Hearing Officerr To begin court, the Hearing Officer will “sound the docket”. This means the Hearing Officer will call the names of the parties listed on the docket. Once docket sounding has been completed, everyone will be asked to step out into the hallway and the Hearing Officer will begin to hear the cases.

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In an attempt to provide some sort of privacy for the parties involved in each case, no one other than the parties is allowed in the courtroom.

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Questioning of Witnesses

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If you bring a witness to testify on your behalf, you must advise one of the bailiffs. The witness must stay in the hallway until the appropriate time for him/her to testify. Some individuals choose to represent themselves during the protective order hearing.

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If you represent yourself during the hearing and you have a witness to testify on your behalf, you will be required to question your witness regarding the events that the witness has personal knowledge about. The witness may not testify about things someone else told that person about. The opposing party will also have an opportunity to question the witness.

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What should your testimony consist of? Due to the high volume of cases and the limited court time available, try to stay focused, and testify regarding the specific allegations you made in your petition. Discuss the most recent incidences of domestic violence first and the past incidences last.

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What if I object to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation ? At the conclusion of the case, the Hearing Officer will make a recommendation. If either party objects to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation, then your case will be tried before the assigned Judge.

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What happens if the defendant is not served?/ If a defendant was not served with Notice to appear for the hearing, the Hearing Officer cannot hear the case. The case may be reset to another court date. If the protective order hearing is reset, then the Temporary Restraining Order will remain in effect until the next scheduled court date. The petitioner will receive a new set of documents so that the Temporary Restraining Order can remain in effect.

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There is no way to determine how long a hearing will take. Some cases take very little time and others are lengthy. Be prepared to wait. If any party needs an excuse for work or school, you may request this from the Hearing Officer .

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WHAT REMEDIES ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH PROTECTIVE ORDER COURT ? Among other things, a petitioner may request child support, spousal support, temporary use of a home and/or vehicle, court costs, attorney fees, etc. through the protective order petition.

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The purpose of protective order court is not to divide up community property. The court may, however, allow a party to return to the former residence, accompanied by law enforcement, to recover personal clothing and necessities. A petitioner may request child support, spousal support and custody of the minor children in the protective order request. However, keep in mind that any award of support or custody is only temporary through the protective order process. That award will remain in effect only for the term of the protective order. Example: if the protective order is in effect for six months then the child support and custody awards are effective for only six months.

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Documents required for Spousal Support and/or Child Support The following information is required if you are requesting child support or spousal support through the protective order hearing:

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Proof of your current income, such as your most recent paycheck stubs.

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Documents reflecting the actual out-of-pocket daycare or after-school care costs for the minor child (or children).

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Documents showing the cost of health insurance paid for only the minor child (or children). This includes dental and vision coverage and this information usually shows up on the paycheck of the party paying for this insurance. However, you may also obtain this information from your employer or the private health insurance provider that provides the coverage.

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Private School Tuition – (if applicable). Bring proof of your child’s private school tuition costs. This includes registration fees, books, and supply fees required for attending private elementary or secondary school.

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If your minor child receives income due to either parent’s disability, then bring proof of your child’s income. Example: if the minor child is receiving social security income due to a parent’s disability. This information is used in the calculation of child support.

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Bring information regarding any pre-existing child support obligation that you may have been court-ordered to pay on behalf of another child that is not a child of the parties.

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Proof of your monthly household expenses such as food, rent, mortgage, car note, gasoline, car insurance, utilities, telephone, etc. is required to determine spousal support.

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Temporary Custody If the petitioner is requesting temporary custody of the minor child (or children), be prepared to provide the court with the following information:

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Your work schedule and/or the work schedule of the opposing party.

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Any extracurricular activity the child (or children) may be involved in and what days and times those activities usually occur.

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Whether the parents have their own custodial arrangements worked out.

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Whether there are issues of drug or alcohol use/abuse which may have negatively impacted the minor child (or children).

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Whether a minor child has special medical needs that will impact the visitation schedule.

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Thank you for watching. This is a presentation of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in cooperation with the Self-Represented Litigant Committee of the Louisiana District Judges Association, and the Access to Justice Program of the Louisiana State Bar Association. Find more resources on www.ldja.org.

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