Many people in California assume that when they set up a court hearing, they are required to attend. In many cases this is true, but there are hearings that do not require an appearance. If there are any questions, you will want to confirm with the court clerk when you are filing your documents. They can let you know specifically for your hearing, the requirements for attendance. Below we will identify some of the possible variables that might not require you to be physically present in court.
First, it is important to note that with the court “a required appearance” doesn’t always mean a physical attendance. In many situations, the parties might not reside within the geographical area of the court. An example would be a child support case where one parent has moved out of state, or even an active duty military member stationed away or on deployment. An appearance for a court hearing can mean in person or even by telephone when allowed. Certain hearings will allow for appearance by phone if the court room allows it and typically it must be approved prior to the court hearing. For these telephonic appearances, some courts simply provide the phone number to the court and others require a third party vendor such as Court Call to facilitate the call. In situations where a vendor is required, you will typically be looking at a fee to do so. Fee waivers on file do not apply to these vendors, so be sure to research early on to prepare for these costs which are typically about $80-$100 currently.
Court appearances that do not require an appearance are common as well. In certain types of cases, such as expungements the court may set a hearing so that the Judge has a specific date to review the file, but does not need the party present. In many of these instances, the register of actions will note “Non Appearance”, but again you will always want to check with the court clerk to confirm. In some cases the court staff may schedule a review hearing which is simply an internal review by the court of the case, but it appears on the register of actions as a hearing.
Final thoughts – Court hearings are often set to hear issues and make orders concerning the parties. A person should always plan to attend their court hearing unless told otherwise by the court. In those situations where a physical appearance is difficult, you will want to talk to the court staff and even further, the court room clerks, to see what available options you have for a possible telephonic appearance.