A tentative ruling states what the judge plans to do based on the papers. The parties can still go to court to try to convince the court to rule otherwise. Tentative rulings should state the basis for the court's decision, so you will know what to focus on at the hearing. You may have to give the other party and the court notice that you plan to appear at the hearing. Check the local rules.
A tentative ruling is just that, tentative. It announces the intended ruling of the court. In most cases, that will be the ruling of the court unless the court issues some other ruling after oral argument.
For more on what the tentative ruling may mean in your case and for the required procedures if the court issues a tentative ruling prior to the morning of the hearing see California Rules of Court Rule 3.1308: http://www.courts.ca.gov/cms/rules/index.cfm?title=three&linkid=rule3_1308
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I agree with Mr. Daymude and Mr. Eschen. A tentative ruling is precisely as it sounds: the court's tentative decision based on the papers before it. It is a strong indication of how you can expect the court to rule on the motion, unless either party can convince it otherwise at the hearing on the motion.
Best of luck to you.
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