Maybe not. You can ask the other party if they will agree to a continuance. If they say yes, you shouldn’t need to file a motion and have a hearing. We explain more below.
Continuance by Agreement
- Contact the other party or their lawyer. Ask if they will agree to a continuance. If the other party has a lawyer, you must contact the lawyer.
* If a restraining order says you and the other party cannot have contact, or you think it would be dangerous for you to talk to them, do not try to get a continuance by agreement. Follow the instructions in Continuance by Court Order, below.
- If you contact the other party or lawyer by phone, follow up with a letter, fax, or email.
- If the other party or lawyer agrees to a continuance, ask them to put it in writing (letter, fax, or email). It should say the new hearing date, if possible.
- The other party or lawyer must tell the court they want the hearing continued. Call the court clerk. Make sure this has happened. Ask the clerk if there is a new hearing date.
The other party might only agree to a continuance if you agree to certain things before the next hearing. If the things are reasonable (or a judge would think so), you can agree. If you do not agree to the other party’s conditions or the new proposed hearing date, you must go to court to ask for a continuance.
Continuance by Court Order
If you have time before the hearing and can make it to the courthouse, you should:
- File a declaration with the court asking for a continuance. It should say why you need the continuance. Explain how you can better present evidence in your case if you have more time. Explain some of what you want to tell the court, in case you do not get a continuance. Explain why not getting the continuance will harm you or someone else. If you asked the other party to agree to a continuance and they refused, put that. Attach any letters, faxes, or emails you sent the other party and any response you got.
- File your original declaration asking for a continuance with the court clerk. File an extra copy for the judge. Ask the clerk how. Keep a copy for your records. Have someone who is at least eighteen years old serve the other party or lawyer with your declaration.
* If your case is a family law case, your server person should also fill out a Proof of Mailing or Hand Delivery form, FL All Family 112, available at courts.wa.gov/forms, to prove the other party was served.
* If your case is not a family law case, you can use the Declaration of Mailing below.
* You must file the Proof of Mailing or Hand Delivery or Declaration of Mailing with the court clerk, or at least bring it to the hearing.
- Get ready for the hearing. Make notes about what to say. Be ready to present your case if the judge does not agree to continue your hearing.
- Go to the hearing. Try to arrive early. When the judge calls your name, say you are there and you are asking for a continuance. The judge may ask you why. A judge who agrees to grant a continuance will usually also set (schedule) a new hearing date at that hearing. If you only have a few days before the next hearing, ask the judge when your response is due. You or the other party should fill out a written order for the judge to sign that says when the next hearing is, when your response is due, and anything else the judge orders. (Examples: a parent will visit with a child, one of the parties can live in the family home, and so on.) Get a copy of the signed order before you leave the courthouse.
- If the judge denies your request for a continuance, write down the reasons why. If you think you had a good reason for asking for the continuance, talk to a lawyer right away. You have a short time to appeal the decision.