Reasons to postpone a court date

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A legal hearing or trial determines the outcome of everything from traffic and noise violations to divorce and child custody arrangements. Never skip a court date without receiving permission to do so. It may result in a warrant issued for your arrest.

It may also cause the judge to reach a verdict without hearing your side of the case. Many states require a written postponement request at least 10 days before a scheduled hearing.


You cannot always prevent illness or injury. Request a postponement if you are under a doctor's care for a medical condition. Cancer, strep throat, a herniated disc and the influenza virus are a few of the conditions that warrant a continuance. Allergies and the common cold do not. Be prepared to provide a doctor's note or documents that verify your condition.

Death in the Family

Request a postponement if a family member has recently passed away. This will allow you to make funeral arrangements or attend services. It will also give you time to mourn the death of your loved one without the pressure of preparing for a court date.

Vacations or Trips

Many courts will allow you to postpone your court date for a planned vacation, especially if you intend to travel out of the country. When a judge reschedules a court case, it is usually for a day that is three to four weeks from the original court date.


Nothing ruins the excitement of a wedding like a scheduled court date. Ask for a continuance of your court date, but be careful not to schedule your honeymoon on the new court date. Some states limit the amount of postponements you can request.

Scheduling Conflicts

You can't be in two different places at the same time. Request a continuance if you have multiple court dates that happen to fall on the same day. You can also request a postponement if you are still in the probationary period of a new job and unable to take a vacation day.

Lack of Evidence

Don't go to a scheduled court date unprepared. You need evidence, whether you're trying to prove innocence or guilt. File a postponement request if you need additional time to gather bank statements, medical records, cell phone records or other vital evidence.

Emergency Situations

Sometimes situations beyond our control occur. Most postponement requests must be submitted 10 days prior to your court date, but the requirements are waived for emergency situations. Examples of an emergency include sudden death of a family member, unexpected injury, or a car accident. Contact the courthouse of the scheduled hearing as soon as possible in the event of an emergency. This should prevent the court from issuing a warrant for your arrest or reaching a case decision without your input.

Doubt or Second Thoughts

The results of a court date can affect significantly affect your life, as well as the lives of others. You may experience second thoughts about filing for divorce or primary physical custody of a child. You may have doubts about whether you will win the case if you filed a lawsuit that some consider frivolous, such as a case involving a spill or fall. Talk to the judge and explain that you have second thoughts. In most cases, he will grant a continuance, allowing you time to rethink your decision to take legal action.