If you're involved in a legal matter, you should make every effort to be present and on time for all scheduled court dates. But a court date may conflict with a prior engagement, or something else may come up that makes you unable to make it to court. If you have a valid reason you cannot be in court--such as a family emergency--you may file a motion asking the court to change the date. In Florida, as in other states, changing a court date requires that you file a “motion for continuance.” This is easy to do if you follow a few guidelines.
Write the case information at the top of a sheet of regular printer paper. Centered at the top of the page--like the heading on business letterhead--write, “State of Florida, In the (court name), County of (county name).” Drop down one line and, starting from the left margin, write the plaintiff’s name and “Plaintiff” beneath it. On the next line down, write “vs.” or “v.” Beneath that, write the defendant’s name (with “Defendant” underneath). On the right side of the page, write your case’s docket number and the judge’s name and title.
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Drop down two or three lines and type either “Plaintiff’s... " or "Defendant’s Motion for Continuance" (depending on your role in the case). Leave another two empty lines, then write a simple sentence asking for a continuance. For example, you might write, "[Your name] respectfully requests a continuance in this matter. On the date currently scheduled for court, I am scheduled for an MRI at the [Florida hospital name]."
Sign and date the document and deliver it to the clerk of the court you're dealing with. The court may deny the motion, particularly if your reason for seeking a continuance is weak, and the other party may claim that a continuance will be unfair to her by denying speedy resolution of the case. All you can do is ask. Provided you have a good reason for asking and there are good reasons to reject it, your request should be granted and the court date rescheduled.
Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.