When parties divorce, often they do not understand that both parties have equal parental rights to the children produced by the marriage until an order has been issued. So, when filing for a divorce, often attorneys will quickly file a Request for Order (RFO), asking the Court to make at temporary orders regarding custody and visitation (Pendente Lite Orders). This avoids a situation where each parent is taking the child from school, daycare, etc….
If the situation presents a danger to the children, a parent can file to request an ex parte order be issued by the Court. Because these orders can involve one parent not being present during that initial hearing, another hearing is set, usually within 21 days. This gives the parent who was not present during the first hearing time to arrange to be present at the next hearing, and possibly retain an attorney in the meantime.
It is very important to attend that initial hearing, regardless of whether you were properly served, as orders can issue from that hearing that could result in you not seeing your child until the next hearing.