A motion for continuance is a request to the court to move a trial or a hearing date to a later date. A motion for continuance might be filed if the court's rules require it or if a party cannot get consent from the other parties to move the date. If the other party doesn't want the date to be moved, that party can file an objection or opposition to the motion.
What Is a Continuance?
A continuance, called an adjournment in some jurisdictions, occurs when a date for a hearing, trial or other court proceeding is moved to a later date. Every court's rules are different about how to request a continuance. Sometimes, the parties can agree to the continuance, and the judge will move the hearing without further action. However, the local rules or the court's own orders may require that a continuance request be made by motion, or that a motion must be filed if the other side won't agree to moving the date.
Read More: How to File a Continuance Hearing in a Family Law Court
Requesting a Continuance
If the court rules allow, a continuance may be granted without a motion if both parties consent to it. Some courts, such as the bankruptcy court in New Jersey, allow a party to make a request for an adjournment even without consent, and it's up to the judge or the trustee to grant it or not.
Some courts allow one or two requests in this manner, but may require a motion if the hearing has already been continued several times. Other courts may always require a motion.
If a Party Will Not Agree to the Continuance
If one party will not agree to the continuance, the court will likely require the requesting party to file a motion. A motion is a document that asks the court to do something. It is filed with the court clerk and reviewed by the judge, who decides whether or not to grant the request based on the motion and any responses filed.
If a motion is filed in court, the other side will have an opportunity to file an objection or response.
Reasons to Object to a Continuance
A party may object to a continuance for a host of reasons, including a desire to expedite the case and have the matter heard quickly. Sometimes a party may object to a continuance because that party believes the other side is intentionally trying to delay the case or drag things out in bad faith. This may be the situation if the requesting party has sought and obtained multiple continuances of the same hearing.
Filing an Objection to a Motion for Continuance
The local rules of court will tell parties how to file an objection to a motion. Across the board, objections should be in writing and filed within the time period specified in the local rules. For example, in New York City, court rules require that a response to a motion be filed at least two days prior to the date set for the motion to be heard.
The objection to a motion for continuance should state the pertinent facts of the case related to the continuance request and list the reasons why the request should not be granted. For instance, if the requesting party has had the hearing date moved multiple times, the objecting party may state in its objection that the request is causing undue delay.
The objection should be signed by the attorney filing it or by the party, if the party does not have counsel. Local rules may have additional requirements, such as requiring an affidavit in support of the objection. The signed objection should be filed with the court clerk before the deadline set out in the rules.
An objection to a motion for continuance should be filed in accordance with the local rules of court. Generally, it should contain the reasons for the objection and be filed with the court clerk within the time period required.
Rebecca K. McDowell is a creditors' rights attorney with a special focus on bankruptcy and insolvency. She has a B.A. in English from Albion College and a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. She has written legal articles for Nolo and the Bankruptcy Site.