How much time is designated for your hearing? - The Men's Legal Center


Family courtrooms are busy, and judges have dozens of cases to process daily. To be efficient, many of them triage their cases, group them based on time estimates.

The family law judge allocates 20 minutes for normal hearings with no or limited testimony, and forty minutes for complicated hearings with no or limited testimony.

Shorter hearings are grouped on the a.m. calendar and longer hearings on the p.m. calendar. For longer hearings with extensive oral testimony, the court allocates whole blocks of time.

This often happens for example in domestic violence cases where the alleged defendant wants to put witnesses on the stand to prove his or her innocence. These are called “special set” hearings. Evidentiary hearings (mini trials) are longer with extensive oral testimony. The court will take oral testimony and the credibility of the parties will likely determine the outcome. Often like a trial, the family law judge requires the parties to submit a legal brief stating each party’s position on the issues to be litigated at the evidentiary hearing.

If you know your hearing will be longer than 20 minutes, make sure to mark the front of your paperwork requesting a hearing with a 40-minute time estimate or your best estimate if longer. If you request a 40-minute hearing the business clerk may be able to automatically place you in that group. If you have a matter longer than 40 minutes inform the business clerk. The clerk’s office will notify the court clerk that you are looking for a special set hearing on the judge’s calendar.

Normally, the court will hear your matter on the 20-minute calendar to inquire from the parties or their attorneys what is the realistic estimate for the evidentiary hearing.

The judge may inquire what evidence and witnesses need to be put on stand to gage a realistic time estimate. If a translator is needed the judge or parties may lengthen the time estimate. The judge will then specially set the matter down the road on his or her calendar when large blocks of time are available.

Of course, the larger the blocks of time sought the further down the road on the court calendar the matter will be set. To help the office clerk and/the courtroom clerk process your request for a hearing efficiently, put a time estimate on the request for hearing form.

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