There Could Be a Way to Extend Your Court Date
Video Transcribed: So you’ve just been served with papers and you’re supposed to appear in court in five days and you want to get counsel, but you don’t have time. What do you do? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa Fathers Rights attorney here with Dads.Law and, today, we’re going to talk about how to ask a family court for a continuance.
What a continuance is, basically, if you’re set to be in court and you’re not ready to go for some reason or you can’t be there or whatever, you ask the court to reschedule, and the term we use in legal practice is called a continuance. Now, one reason you might need a continuance is if you need time to hire counsel. Now, the way you handle that is if it’s an initial court appearance, you go in, advise the judge you would like time to get legal counsel, and then the court will ask you, “About how far out do you want to go?” That really depends on why you’re in court because, in some cases, you may want to get more time. In some cases, you may want to move a little faster so you’re not prejudiced. And then, there are also situations where there are statutory deadlines that have to be met and you may not be permitted a whole lot of time.
One thing you should do is make sure you ask for enough time that you actually can go retain counsel. When you’re going in there, keep in mind what your monetary situation looks like. If you’re broke and not getting paid for three weeks, don’t take a continuance for a week because you’re going to be back there asking for another one. Getting the first continuance to get counsel usually isn’t that hard but if you go back and you’re still not ready, judges will become increasingly stringent about allowing you time to do that.
Now, there are some situations too where you’re going to be on a tight deadline, so you’re going to have to scramble. If, for example, you get served with an emergency or you get served with a motion to enforce, those come with statutory deadlines. Now, if you’re served with the emergency, you can waive the 10-day rule and get a hearing longer than that. But keep this in mind, in Tulsa County, the dockets are busy, stupid busy. If you waive that 10 days, your priority status is gone, which means you may not get a show cause hearing for a month. Now, if you need a month to get counsel and then get them up to speed, that’s fine, but just keep in mind that, in the meantime, the emergency order will control and you may not be allowed to see your child. If you’re talking about a situation where it’s some kind of frivolous garbage or you’re really contesting it, the downside to that is you’re subject to that order until the court does a show cause. The same is true for a protective order.
I’m going to do a specific video talking about protective orders in the future. But suffice it to say that when you’re dealing with a statutory deadline, if it is going to work to prejudice you and require you to waive the right to have a short hearing, you may need to do that to avoid a situation where you’re unrepresented, but that comes at a price because it may also mean that you have to wait 30, 60, or more days before you get back into court. Just keep that in mind. The other thing to keep in mind is if you’ve been served with a motion to enforce where you’re not the one prosecuting it and the statutory deadline is on the other side, then it also means that if they won’t waive, you may have a harder time convincing the judge to let you have time to get counsel. Again, this is something to be aware of. Sometimes the judge may give you a hard time about it.
The main point, if you’re going in, here’s how you specifically ask for time, is you’ll come into court, the court will call the case, and you should stand up immediately and say, “Your Honor, I’m here alone. I would like time to retain legal counsel as I’m not an attorney and I don’t necessarily understand how to respond to this.” 99% of the time, if you request it respectfully on a first appearance, you’ll get it. Just make sure you set it far enough out to allow yourself time to get counsel. You may be admonished that you have to waive a statutory deadline or that there’s a statutory deadline in place and the court can’t pass it out as far as you want.
The last thing I’m going to tell you about that is if you get the pass, don’t screw around. Get counsel as soon as you possibly can, and don’t wait until the last minute because that will make your attorney less effective. If you have questions about that or you need an Oklahoma family court lawyer because you’ve been served with something, one place you can get help is at Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable.