The Procedure for Court Postponement of a Divorce Hearing
By Timothy Mucciante
Any court proceeding, including a divorce, has a schedule that the judge has set. Many courts issue scheduling orders that set the time for discovery cut-off, motion filing cut-off, settlement conferences and mediation. In courts with mandatory divorce mediation, the mediation panel may decide the schedule. Work schedules, other prior scheduled obligations and emergencies may interfere with the dates mandated in the court's scheduling order. If appropriate, a judge may grant a postponement in a divorce case.
Divorce Civil Procedure
The reasons that a divorce may be granted differ among states, as does the actual procedure used in a divorce case. Unless a specific procedural issue is covered in a state's divorce law, the state's rules of civil procedure guide a divorce proceeding. Civil procedure rules may be passed by a state's legislature or promulgated by the state supreme court. However these rules come about, they govern how you may seek a postponement in a divorce case.
Acceptable Reasons for a Postponement
The pace at which a divorce case proceeds through any judge's courtroom may be monitored by a state court administrator, and the judge may receive a rating as to the efficiency of his courtroom. Because of this, many judges are hesitant to grant a postponement in a divorce case for any reason other than a good reason. Valid reasons that would support a judge granting a postponement include: if the couple wishes to seek reconciliation, if valid scheduling conflicts exist with a medical or or other professional appointment, or if the couple needs additional preparation time.
Making the Postponement Request
To seek a postponement of a divorce hearing, you file a motion with the court. This postponement is also sometimes referred to as a continuance. Many courts require that the party requesting the continuance ask the opposing party for their agreement to the postponement, and also to agree on a new court date. If the opposing party does not agree to the request, then the judge will hear the motion at a motion hearing. If the judge grants the motion, he will issue an order that sets a new court date.
Confirming the New Date
Whether the court granted the postponement after a motion hearing or if it was granted that resulted from an agreement between the parties, you should confirm the new hearing date in two ways. First, check the actual court order that was issued to verify that the order correctly states the new date. Second, when the date for the divorce hearing draws near, call the court clerk and the opposing party to confirm the date for the upcoming hearing.
Timothy Mucciante has worked as a lawyer and business consultant, and has been writing professionally since 1981. His writing has appeared in the "Michigan Bar Journal" and many corporate publications. Mucciante holds both a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University/Detroit College of Law.