Can My Ex Delay Our Custody Hearing?

By Michael Butler

If you have a custody hearing scheduled before a court, the hearing will normally take place at the scheduled date and time. The only person who can delay the hearing is a judge. If your ex wants to delay the hearing, he will be able to only if the judge agrees the delay is appropriate.

Motions for Continuance

When one of the parties wants to delay a hearing, he must file a motion for continuance with the court. Often, both parties sign the motion if they agree to it. If both parties do not agree to the continuance, the court may hold the hearing at the scheduled time and decide whether to grant the continuance before hearing the rest of the case. Judges can also schedule telephone conferences on the motion for continuance to decide whether to grant it before the scheduled hearing. In some cases, a separate hearing might be scheduled to rule on the motion.

Good Cause

Continuances are only granted for a good cause. Depending upon the stage of the proceedings, what constitutes a good cause differs. For example, if your unrepresented ex hires a new lawyer, he might request a continuance to allow the lawyer time to get up to speed in the case or because the attorney is unavailable at the original scheduled time. A judge might consider this a good cause for granting a continuance for a hearing that was scheduled with two weeks' notice. In contrast, the same judge might not think this is a good cause for hearings scheduled with six months' notice.

Common Reasons

Judges often grant motions to continue if one of the parties asks for mediation or for a custody evaluation by an outside authority, unless the judge thinks that the request is being made solely for delay. If your ex has an accident and is in the hospital, a judge will usually grant a continuance. The judge will not grant a continuance if the original hearing date is inconvenient. Thus, your ex will not be allowed to delay your custody hearing just because he wants a different date for his own reasons.


Hearings are often continued for a variety of reasons: The judge might be sick, a jury trial in the same courtroom might go longer than previously anticipated or the same judge may need to hear a criminal trial for constitutional reasons. If a judge does grant your ex's request for a continuance over your objection, don't get upset with the court. The same judge will eventually hear your custody case and your behavior in front of the judge will factor in to how the judge views your credibility.