What happens in court?
If you apply for a TRO in the Family Division of Superior Court, you will appear before a judge so you can tell him/her what happened. You will usually appear before a judge without the abuser being present.
When you return to court on the date indicated in your order, the abuser has a right to be present. Both you and the abuser will have the opportunity to tell the judge what happened between you. You are allowed to bring a lawyer to this hearing, but it is purely your choice. At the end of this hearing, the judge will determine if you should receive a final order, for how long and under what conditions.
If the abuser does not appear at the hearing, the judge will either continue the temporary order in effect until the abuser can be brought into court, or will enter a final order if there is proof that the abuser was served with the TRO/Notice to Appear. The sheriff or police should have proof of service. You cannot be asked or told to serve papers on the abuser.
If you do not appear, and have not made arrangements with the court to reschedule the case, someone from the court will attempt to contact you by phone at home or work or they may send you a certified letter if you have no phone. The courts take domestic violence very seriously, and will be worried about your safety if you do not call. If they cannot find you, your restraining order may be dismissed and you will no longer have the protection granted in the order.