Buried in the stack of papers with the Ex Parte Domestic Violence Protective Order and Summons just handed to you by the sheriff is a trial date. Unless the matter was continued, your hearing will be within 10 days of the ex parte hearing that you most likely did not even know took place.Attendence at the trial is not necessarily mandatory but here is why it is important you are there.
If you decide to not attend the return hearing for the domestic violence protective order a hearing will take place without you. There is a possibility that an order of protection will be entered against you because you are not there to argue why an order should not be entered or why evidence being put on is not accurate. The judge will only hear from the plaintiff. You will have no say in the conduct that you are barred from doing or places you are not allowed to go which can include schools, offices, parks, and anywhere requested by the party seeking the order.
If you do attend, you will have a chance to defend yourself and possibly demonstrate to the judge there is no basis for a protective order. In certain situations, it may benefit the bigger picture to attend and agree to a consent order without any specific findings of fact in case there are other criminal charges or family issues that may wind up in a different court room.
At the very least, you should bring the paperwork the sheriff handed you to an attorney and discuss your rights moving forward as well as how having a protective order entered against you will affect your life. You may not care about having any contact with the person seeking the protective order, but protective orders have wider sweeping consequences then you may have considered. An attorney can also help you assess the strength of the statements in the complaint and can discuss with you the best way to approach a domestic violence protective order hearing.