How to Ask for a Continuance in Family Court
Family court cases can be emotionally charged and complex. Whether you are dealing with a divorce, child custody, or child support matter, there may be times when you need to request a continuance for your court hearing. A continuance is a delay or postponement of the court proceedings, allowing you more time to prepare or address any unforeseen circumstances. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to ask for a continuance in family court and answer some frequently asked questions to help you navigate this challenging situation.
1. Understand the Need for a Continuance:
Before requesting a continuance, it is essential to assess why you require one. Common reasons include:
a) Insufficient time to gather evidence or prepare your case adequately.
b) A sudden illness or emergency that prevents you from attending the hearing.
c) The unavailability of a key witness or expert.
d) A scheduling conflict with your attorney or another essential obligation.
2. Review Court Rules and Local Procedures:
Each family court may have its own rules and procedures regarding continuances. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines to ensure you follow the correct steps. You can find this information on the court’s website or by contacting the court clerk.
3. Consult with Your Attorney:
If you have legal representation, discuss the need for a continuance with your attorney. They can provide valuable advice on whether a continuance is appropriate in your case and guide you through the process. Your attorney will also be responsible for filing the necessary paperwork on your behalf.
4. File a Written Request:
In most cases, you will need to submit a written request for a continuance to the court. Be sure to include the following information:
a) Your name, case number, and contact information.
b) The date and time of your scheduled hearing.
c) A clear explanation of why you are requesting a continuance.
d) Any supporting documents or evidence that substantiate your request.
e) Your proposed new hearing date, if applicable.
5. Serve the Other Party:
Once you have filed your written request, you must serve a copy to the other party involved in the case. This ensures that all parties are aware of your request and have an opportunity to respond or object.
6. Attend the Hearing:
Even if you have requested a continuance, it is crucial to attend the scheduled hearing. The judge may still proceed with the hearing or require additional information before granting your request. Be prepared to present your case and explain why a continuance is necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can I ask for a continuance on the day of the hearing?
A: It is generally not advisable to request a continuance on the day of the hearing unless it is an extreme emergency. Courts prefer receiving requests in advance to ensure an organized schedule.
Q: What happens if the other party objects to my continuance request?
A: If the other party objects to your continuance request, the judge will consider both sides’ arguments before making a decision. It is essential to present strong justifications and supporting evidence to increase your chances of success.
Q: Can I request multiple continuances?
A: While it is possible to request multiple continuances, courts generally try to avoid unnecessary delays. Multiple requests may be granted if there are valid reasons, but it is best to demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to avoid repeated postponements.
Q: Will a continuance affect my case negatively?
A: A continuance is a common occurrence in family court proceedings, and it should not inherently impact your case negatively. However, if the continuance is due to lack of preparation or poor time management, it may reflect poorly on you.
Q: Can I request a continuance if I cannot afford an attorney?
A: Yes, you can request a continuance even if you do not have legal representation. However, it is advisable to seek assistance from legal aid organizations or pro bono services to ensure you are well-informed and properly prepared.
In conclusion, asking for a continuance in family court requires careful consideration and adherence to court rules and procedures. By understanding the need for a continuance, consulting with your attorney, and filing a written request, you can increase your chances of obtaining the necessary delay. Remember to serve the other party and be prepared to present your case at the scheduled hearing.