The preliminary hearing gives a limited time for the attorneys to present their respective cases to the judge to see if the case needs to be heard.
NO, children do not go to this hearing or any others that I’m aware of. Yes, you would need to have witnesses subpeonaed and all evidence in hand in case it needs to be presented.
The hearings are held in family court which is open to the public unless the judge has reason to call for a closed session, which is unlikely. Anyone can be in the courtroom, aside from children. I do not think the courts want the children there. It’s not a good idea to have children witness the custody battle. There are a lot of things said in court about each parent that could be detrimental to the child and they will not understand…
For my husband and his ex, their preliminary hearing gave each attorney 30 min to present arguments and question witnesses. There was only one other person besides my husband and his ex questioned and that was a mutual friend. The total time we were in court was less than two hours. They did settle out of court after this hearing because it was evident that custody would not go the way his ex wanted. The judge set temporary custody to remain as it was in their separation until the hearing was set. Since they settled out of court there was never another hearing and their custody agreement they settled on was signed by the judge making it a court order.