If you need more time to get ready for a court hearing or trial, you may be able to get a continuance. A "continuance" changes the date of a court hearing or trial to a later date. This article tells you how to ask the judge for a continuance.
What is a continuance?
A continuance changes the date of a court hearing or trial to a later date. You can ask a judge for a continuance by filing a motion for continuance.
What is a continuance hearing?
If the other side will not agree to a continuance, the judge will decide whether or not to give you a continuance at a separate hearing called a “continuance hearing.” It is your responsibility to notify the other side of the date and time of the continuance hearing.
If the other side agrees to the continuance, the judge will usually sign an order granting your continuance without a continuance hearing.
Should I talk with a lawyer if I need a continuance?
Yes! If possible, talk with a lawyer in the county where the case was filed.
You can hire a lawyer just to:
- give you advice and review your continuance forms,
- negotiate a continuance with the other side,
- represent you at your continuance hearing.
You may also be able to talk with a lawyer for free at a legal clinic.
Use TexasLawHelp's Legal Help Directory to search for a lawyer referral service, legal aid organization, or self-help center serving your area. On Texas Free Legal Answers, Texans with low or moderate incomes can work with a pro bono attorney for free. Post a question on the site, and an attorney responds via email.
Will the judge give me a continuance?
A judge will give you a continuance if you can show good cause. “Good cause” means a very good reason for changing the date that is already set.
Reasons you may want to ask for a continuance include:
- You did not get enough notice of the hearing. (The law says you must get at least 45 days’ notice of a final hearing, at least 10 days’ notice of an enforcement hearing, and at least three days’ notice of most other hearings. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about notice.)
- You need more time to hire a lawyer or apply for legal aid. (Bring the names of any lawyers or legal aid organizations you’ve spoken with about your case to your continuance hearing.)
- You need more time to get ready to represent yourself at a hearing.
- You need more time to get important evidence or subpoena an important witness.
It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer in the county where the case was filed. The lawyer can tell you whether or not the judge is likely to give you a continuance.
What if I just found out about a hearing?
The law says that you must receive at least three days’ notice of a hearing.
If you just found out about a hearing, fill out a Motion for Continuance and Notice of Hearing form and bring it with you to the hearing. If you have time, send a copy of the motion to the other side. If the other side has a lawyer, send it to the lawyer. Do not skip the hearing.
What if the judge does not give me a continuance?
The judge may not give you a continuance. You must have a plan to go forward on the original hearing date if the judge does not give you a continuance.
Where can I find continuance forms?
To print out both the instructions and forms, click here.
Continuance forms are available in the "instructions and forms" tab of I need a continuance. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and look under the "Related Forms" section. Links to the forms are below as well.
Where can I read the law about asking for a continuance?
Read the law here: Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 251 – 254.
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