Respondent responded 36 hours before our hearing with so many demands and accusations that I have no way or time to prepare. Plus, he's bringing a witness to testify against me and to credit him. I didn't even know we could bring witnesses the first time around...I thought that was a trial function not hearing. He has an attorney...I have no income because he controls access to our money and keeps me on a small allowance for me & the kids (not enough, naturally). What can I do tomorrow at the hearing? Can I as the Petitioner ask for a continuance or is there some way to not allow this witness to speak yet?
It is up to the court whether they will allow testimony at an initial hearing. Generally the do not hear testimony unless there is a specific issue that is being decided that day such that the witnesses information may help determine that issue. You can ask for a continuance to better prepare but you cannot keep the witness from testifying if the court wants to hear from that witness. You can object in open court but again if the court wants to hear from that person, they will be allowed to speak. I strongly suggest you interview several attorneys until you find someone who can work with you financially. With your husband being in control of the money and children involved, this is important so you don't get railroaded and not get what you and you children need.
I agree with Attorney James, the court can decide to hear from the witness if they so choose, so get yourself a lawyer so you are not put at an extreme disadvantage in your case. You will lose far more than you will have to pay the attorney.
Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created by this communication. Attorney is licensed in California only.
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It's not clear what SORT of "first hearing" is coming up. If it's a trial setting or status conference, then the court probably will not want any testimony from you, him, or any witnesses; the court is going to handle trial calendaring. If it's a "trial" "Request for Orders" ("RFO") Order To Show Cause", or 'Motion" then the court may take testimony ON THE SUBJECTS OF THAT HEARING. If you obnly got a response 36 hours before the hearing, you should let the judge know, and ask (a) to have the hearing continued long enough to let you prepare and that he be ordered to pay enough child support and spousal support in the interim that you and the kids can survive until the next hearing.