How to Reschedule a Court Hearing

By Terri Lynn Coop
Court approval is required to reschedule a court hearing.

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Rescheduling a court hearing requires that a written "motion for continuance" be filed with the court. In this motion, you are asking the court to change the date of your court appearance. Rules vary a bit from court to court, but generally a motion for continuance should include the case caption, a statement of why you need a continuance, how long of a continuance you need and the opinion of the other party.

Identify the type of court where you are scheduled to appear. For a civil lawsuit, court cases are filed in either state or federal court. The court documents identify the court at the top of the page. For example, a federal court would read "District of Kansas," while a suit filed in state court would read "In the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas."

Locate the local rules for the court where you are scheduled to appear. If your state court does not have local rules, use the rules for the federal court district, which includes the county where you are scheduled to appear.

Contact the other party. If the other side has an attorney, contact the attorney. If the other side does not have an attorney, contact the party directly. Most local rules require the party asking for a continuance to ask the other side if they agree or disagree with rescheduling the court appearance. You must include the other party's views in your motion. If unable to contact the other party after a good faith effort, note this in your motion.

Research motion format. Consult the local rules for specific requirements on things such as typing, margins and font size. Most state courts will accept a legible handwritten motion from parties without an attorney. However, federal court documents must be typed.

Prepare the caption. The caption is the information that identifies the case. Typically, it can be copied off of other court documents. The key elements are identifying the court, the parties involved, the case number and the type of motion.

Write a short introduction stating who you are -- plaintiff or defendant -- and that you are asking the court to reschedule the hearing set for a certain date. For example, "For good cause shown, defendant John Brown asks this court to continue the pretrial conference set for (date) at 2:30 p.m."

Detail your reasons for wanting to reschedule the court hearing. Common reasons are illness, prior commitments that cannot be rescheduled, seeking an attorney, waiting to receive evidence and settlement talks with the other party.

State the results of your consultation with the other party. Tell the court when and how you contacted them -- telephone, email or fax, for example -- and if they agree or disagree to the continuance.

Conclude by asking the court for a specific continuance. For example, "For the reasons stated above, the plaintiff asks the court for a continuance of at least ten days until (date)."

Sign the motion and include your name, address, telephone number and email. All signed motions and pleadings are subject to the court's version of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A signature certifies that the signer is telling the truth and not trying to reschedule the court hearing for "any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation."

Add a certificate of service. This signed document certifies that you sent a copy of the motion for continuance to the other party specifying the date you sent it, the other party's name and address and by what means, such as first-class mail, certified mail or process server.

File the motion for continuance with the court pursuant to its rules. In state court, you typically file in person at the courthouse. In federal court, you file all motions electronically. Some courts allow filing by fax. Contact the court clerk for the preferred method.

About the Author

Terri Lynn Coop is an attorney by day and a writer by night. She began writing professionally in 2006 and her work has appeared in Dream People, Whispers of Wickedness, Flashshots and "The Flash 40 Anthology." She has a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from University of the Pacific and a Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa.

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