One of the questions that come up in family law cases is: What is a Motion for Continuance? In the majority of litigated divorces, there is at least one Motion for Continuance filed. But what is it, and what does it do?
Read on to learn more.
Motion for Continuance Basics
A Motion for Continuance is a motion that one party files with the court seeking the court move a hearing or other court date.
How Are Court Hearings Scheduled?
Courts typically schedule hearings unilaterally. In other words, the court checks its own calendar for availability and sets a hearing date and time without consulting with either divorce attorney. That means one of the spouses or their lawyers may have a conflict on the scheduled date. In some cases, one attorney may not be able for the hearing date because the same court already scheduled her for the same day in a different case.
Fairly early in the case, following the Resolution Plan Date, the court does issue a scheduling order containing court dates out into the future. Because of the advance notice of court dates, this scheduling order may reduce some scheduling conflicts.
When Do You File a Motion for Continuance?
To address scheduling conflicts, lawyers commonly file Motions for Continuance. This usually results in a later hearing date. Prior to filing a Motion for Continuance, your lawyer will advise your ex’s attorney that she is seeking a Motion for Continuance and request her consent.
Should You Consent to Your Ex’s Continuance?
Talk to your lawyer about this. There can be upsides and downsides both to consenting and withholding consent. Very generally speaking, unless the other side is habitually filing continuances or the request is unreasonable, it often makes sense to consent to the continuance. (Your consent doesn’t necessarily mean the court will grant the continuance. Likewise, your withholding consent doesn’t necessarily mean the judge will deny the continuance.)
Does the Court Ever Deny Motions for Continuance?
Yes. In fact, even when the parties agree to continue a matter does not mean that the court will automatically grant the motion. Generally speaking, the odds that the court will grant a Motion for Continuance increase the sooner you requested it. In other words, you want to be on the lookout for scheduling conflicts as the court schedules dates so that you can promptly file for a continuance. It’s also important to know that judges are more likely to deny requests for continuances the longer your case has been pending and the closer it is to the trial date.
What Are the Potential Benefits of a Motion for Continuance?
The primary benefit of a Motion for Continuance we’ve discussed today is to address scheduling conflicts. But, there can be additional benefits as well. For example, a continuance gives you and your divorce attorney more time to prepare for your court hearing. You may use the time to do additional discovery such as depositions.
Finally, you can use the additional time to negotiate and try to resolve some of the outstanding issues or even your entire case. If you are able to reach a full resolution in your case, you’ll avoid trial and finalize your divorce at an uncontested hearing.
What Are the Potential Downsides of a Motion for Continuance?
The main downside to a continuance is the additional delay. If that is the case, your lawyer may withhold consent to your ex’s Motion for Continuance. If the delay would significantly impact the substance of your case, your attorney may also file a written objection with the court detailing why.
Do Scheduled Court Dates Ever Change Without a Continuance?
Yes. Sometimes the court’s schedule changes and the court unilaterally changes a date it previously set.
What’s the Difference Between a Motion for Continuance and a Motion for Extension of Time?
Generally speaking, a Motion for Continuance addresses the timing of a court hearing date. A Motion for Extension of Time seeks to extend a due date — such as the deadline for a brief.
For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts. If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or post-judgment issue, please contact us here.