Procedures Applicable to a Defendant in a Protection Case - The Final Hearing

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B. The Final Hearing.

You are not required to file a formal written response to the plaintiff's protection complaint. The summons will give you the date, time and place of the final hearing on the protection case.

You have a right to be at the hearing and must be given notice of the date and time of the hearing. You also may hire a lawyer, may testify and bring witnesses, and may subpoena witnesses. If you wish to say anything about the case, you must be at the hearing. If you are at the hearing and the plaintiff does not show up, the case is likely to be dismissed (if the case is dismissed, the temporary protection order will no longer exist). If the plaintiff is at the hearing and you are not there, the judge will probably issue a protection order for the plaintiff and against you (without requiring the plaintiff to prove the compliant is true).  

At the hearing, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that you abused, sexually assaulted, stalked or harassed the plaintiff or any children for whom the plaintiff is responsible. A plaintiff with personal knowledge of what happened usually must testify at the hearing. If the case is brought on behalf of a child, the child will probably be required to testify unless the plaintiff or another witness has personal knowledge of what happened and can testify instead. The plaintiff may bring other witnesses to support his/her case, may subpoena witnesses, and may hire a lawyer. The Maine Rules of Evidence apply.

At the hearing, the judge will first ask the plaintiff to present evidence and witnesses. The judge will rule on any objections. You will have a turn to respond and to present witnesses after the plaintiff. After hearing all the evidence and all the witnesses, the judge will make a decision on all issues.

The plaintiff will have asked for specific kinds of relief in the complaint (see section F in the plaintiff section of the booklet for a list of the types of relief that can be requested). You should review the complaint prior to the hearing and be prepared to explain why any particular form of relief the plaintiff wants is inappropriate or to suggest a different arrangement that might be more appropriate.

In an abuse, sexual assault or stalking case, if the plaintiff and you are the parents of minor children, both the plaintiff and you must have completed a child support affidavit before the hearing. At the hearing, the judge may ask both the plaintiff and you for any information about the income of either party. If a protection from abuse order is granted, the judge may order child support, unless there is already a child support order in existence.

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