Continuance is the legal term for when a court date is rescheduled to some time in the future. There are many reasons that a court date may be Continued, and continuances can have significant effects upon cases.
There are many reasons that a court may continue a hearing. Some common reasons:
- To allow for more time for negotiations
- The need to obtain additional evidence or witnesses
- The absence of a party or attorney due to a car accident or medical problem
- A scheduling conflict
- The desire to resolve other matters first, such as wishing to handle a protective order case first and continue a divorce trial to a later date
The court can continue a case on its own initiative (called a sua sponte continuance), or at the request of any of the parties to a case. Continuances that are requested by a party and agreed to by the other party or parties are very likely to be granted. In situations where one party wants a continuance and another party or parties do not agree, then the court will generally hold a hearing to decide whether to grant or deny the requested continuance. There is generally no right to a continuance, meaning that the court is free to deny the request.
Reasons that a court may deny a continuance request include the following:
- A case has been pending for “too long” and the court does not wish to see the case drag out any longer
- Granting a continuance would cause hardship to a party that has spent time preparing for the court date
- Witnesses or a jury would be inconvenienced by the granting of the continuance
- The continuance request is seen by the court as an improper delaying tactic
- The continuance request is made by a party due to that party’s lack of diligence in preparing their case, which the court does not wish to reward with a continuance
Generally speaking, the “better” a reason that a party has for requesting a continuance, and the sooner the request is made, the more likely it is that the motion to continue will be granted.