How Do I Respond to a Court Motion?

By February 23, 2018Blog
Response To Court Motion | National Family Solutions

A court motion is an official request to have a concern heard by a judge. In a divorce case, there are two main kinds of motions: pre-trial and post-trial. As their names would imply, a pre-trial motion takes place before a divorce trial or settlement, and a post-trial court motion takes place afterward. Usually, a pre-trial motion is asking a judge to make a temporary decision on something (such as child custody or child support) that needs to be determined before the divorce is final.

A post-trial motion might be filed when something needs to change (such as a lower child support payment from a father who has lost his job). It can also be filed after the divorce if one spouse is not complying with the judgment; if a parent won’t allow the other parent to have their visitation or the one who is supposed to pay child support is not doing so, a court motion could end up placing them in contempt of court. If you receive word that a court motion has been filed against you, there are some steps you should take to protect yourself.

 

Determine If You Agree Or Disagree

Using the example of a father who has lost his job and needs to have lower child support payments, the mother might agree or disagree with him. If she agrees, there’s usually no need to return to court. She can simply file an agreement form and accept the lower payments. Another possibility is that she might agree that the amount can be lowered but disagree on the proposed amount. In this case, she can work it out with her ex-husband to try to come up with a solution. A mediator can be helpful in this case. When there is an agreement (including when the agreement comes after mediation), this is the fastest and least expensive way to overcome the disagreement.

If, however, the ex-wife disagrees, she would have to file an opposition form. This is a form that tells the court that there is a disagreement and what the proposed solution is. The solution might be to keep things the way they are (meaning that there’s a complete disagreement that any change at all is needed). The person responding to the court motion with an opposition form should indicate why they believe that they are right.

 

Submit The Documents And Serve Your Ex

If you decide to submit an opposition form, it’s important to do so on time. If you don’t respond on time, it’s possible that the judge will assume that you agree and will approve the court motion. Your legal advocacy group can help you fill out the necessary paperwork. In addition to the opposition form, there might be financial or other documentation needed. You will need to file these documents with the court.

You also need to serve the opposition form to your ex-spouse. The way this is done differs by state, but you might be able to serve it personally, send it by mail, or have an attorney serve it for you.

 

Attend The Court Motion Hearing

You will be given a hearing date that you should plan on attending. If you don’t attend, chances are good that the judge will simply rule in the other person’s favor. This hearing is when the judge will hear the reasoning behind the court motion and the opposition. If you have a private attorney, you can have him or her accompany you to the hearing. If not, you can choose to represent yourself.

If you are representing yourself, a legal advocacy group can help you learn how you can make the best impression possible on the judge. Your case manager can talk to you about what to wear and what to expect at your hearing. You will also learn about proper courtroom decorum and how a family court hearing often proceeds. You can also go over your case with the professionals at the advocacy group so you know that you are able to get your point across efficiently and effectively.

 

Wait For The Decision

In some cases, the judge will be able to make a decision immediately after the hearing. In other cases, you might need to wait days, weeks, or even months to hear about the final decision. While you are waiting for the decision, usually the status quo will remain the same until you hear otherwise. If that is not accurate in your case, the judge will let you know.

Once the decision has been made, there will be more paperwork to file with the clerk of the court. Again, your advocacy group can help you with this. You will need to get this done promptly.

Finally, you need to put into action whatever was decided by the court. If it was a pre-trial motion, be aware that it is only temporary. For example, if you are granted temporary custody of the children and you can live in the marital home, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is what the permanent judgment will be; it’s possible that it will, in fact, be the opposite of what the temporary judgment is. If it’s a post-trial court motion, then an appeal or another court motion will be needed if one of you wants to change it later. Do be advised that it takes a lot for a judge to consider a motion post-trial.

Going through a divorce is stressful, and you might not understand all of the ins and outs of what could transpire not only before the divorce trial but afterward as well. A legal advocacy group like National Family Solutions can help you take control of your divorce. They will walk you through the process of completing paperwork and understanding the various motions and judgments that come up. The good news is that most people who are getting divorced don’t need a high-priced private attorney and will be able to complete their divorces with the help of a group like National Family Solutions.

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