Requesting a Continuance for Court (Sample Letter)
File a Request for Continuance
Millions of Americans face credit or property-related civil lawsuits every year. While some will require the services of an attorney, those facing time in small claims court often elect to represent themselves. Self-representation in minor financial settlements can be a good way to save money, but what should you do if you can’t appear when you are ordered to?
Scheduling conflicts are common for small claims defendants and plaintiffs alike. If you have been issued a subpoena for a court time or date that you can’t possibly attend, you won’t need the expensive services of an attorney to reschedule. Filing a request for continuance on your own behalf is simple, fast, and easy.
Steps to Request a Continuance
- The first thing you will need to request a continuance is a valid reason. This reason could be scheduling conflicts or the inability to acquire necessary documents before the assigned date. You will be required to explain your reason in your request. Make certain you cannot resolve the scheduling conflict on your own behalf before requesting a continuance. The court will ultimately decide whether or not your request will be granted based on the reason you have provided.
- Scheduling conflicts can be a valid reason to issue a continuance. However, the court must agree that you are not able to reschedule the event that conflicts with your court date. Examples of valid life events include serious illness, a death in your family, previously scheduled court appearances, final exams in a formal education setting, or a major work event. Examples of invalid reasons would include a routine work schedule, leisure trips, or child care.
- For your own sake, never request a continuance unless you are certain rescheduling your own schedule is impossible. You may find that acquiring a first continuance is not difficult, however, the court will likely be less accommodating for subsequent requests. Also, wasting the court’s time will not win you any friends when you finally arrive to defend yourself.
- The information you require to complete a Request of Continuance, including your docket number, can be found on the original subpoena that was issued to you. If you no longer have access to that document, the information can be accessed through the court clerk.
- In addition to submitting your request to the court, you must also deliver a copy of your request (by mail or courier) to the Plaintiff or their representative. The appropriate name and address will be contained within the subpoena. It is not necessary to have this request witnessed. However, you may choose to request delivery confirmation when mailing the copy to the Plaintiff or their representative.
Sample Letter for a Court Continuance
This is the basic format for a request of continuance:
Request for Continuance
TO: Clerk of Court (Name of Court)
(Court Address line 1)
(Court Address line 2)
FROM: (Your Name), Defendant (Your Title - If applicable)
(Your Address line 1)
(Your Address line 2)
DOCKET# (The docket number exactly as it appears on your subpoena)
I am submitting this Request for Continuance as the defendant in the small claims case named above. The Court has issued a hearing date of (hearing date as it appears on your subpoena) at (exact time as it appears on your subpoena). (Provide your reason. Example: I am a full-time student at University College and I have final exams scheduled for that day and time). I am requesting a continuance until after (provide a date when your scheduling issue will be resolved), when this scheduling conflict will be resolved.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
(Your signature belongs here)
cc: (The name of the Plaintiff’s representative, if applicable), representing (the Plaintiff’s name), Plaintiff