Requesting a Continuance for Court (Sample Letter)

Updated on November 30, 2016

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
DATE: (dd/mm/yyyy)
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)

(Your name)

cc: (The name of the Plaintiff’s representative, if applicable), representing (the Plaintiff’s name), Plaintiff

Have you successfully requested a continuance before?

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    • profile image

      Sonia 10 months ago

      I have exam so I am not able to attend hearing on court how to drafting a letter to DCP please confirm

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      Brent'a Faith Stand 10 months ago

      Not sure what to do date for hearing requested by plaintiff is here. Lawyers say wait say copy I received was only plaintiffs intent that true copy is to have signature of judge and affirmation seal. But I don't know so here I go and will hand write my continuance I have no computer nor formal documents so in The Mighty NAME OF JESUS, I will write my response and my request . My lawyers say I should've been given thus and such.

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      DoveFreexrolo 23 months ago

      Good night.

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      gepeTooRs 23 months ago

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      Lala candy land 3 years ago

      What happens if I miss a day of community service order by the court. Can I reschedule another day to make up for the hours I've lost?

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      fricicDat 5 years ago

      My spouse and i helpful to obtain on top of lifetime nevertheless these days I've truly established a new amount of resistance.

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      jane jane 5 years ago

      Thank you SO much - this REALLY helped in the nick of time!!!

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      ttanya 5 years ago

      Thanks this worked twice now just if you could find me a fantastic legal aide lawyer for my divorce and custody battle

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      lidlexekpifeb 5 years ago

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      louzer 5 years ago

      Awesome! Worked great! I hand-wrote this up and made 2 copies ... the day of court... they granted me a continuance (in bankrupsy eminent) thank you! Nest thing in a while