Like most court proceedings, Massachusetts divorces and family law cases require the parties to showing up at court at least once - sometimes many times. However, life can sometimes intervene and make it difficult or impossible for a person to make it to court at times. So what happens if you miss a Family Court date?
"Failure to appear" happens when a person skips a previously scheduled court date without bothering to alert the court to your absence. If a person fails to appear for a contempt hearing, the Court can and often does issue a bench warrant for that person's arrest.
The main reason to show up at hearings in Family Court is to ensure that your interests are being represented and protected. If you don't show up, the hearing will almost always go forward anyway, and you will lose the chance to advocate on your behalf. Put another way, if you are not there, the judge will only get to hear one side of the story (the other party's side) before making a decision. So, the other party could walk away with everything they wanted because you weren't there to tell your side of the story. Therefore, unless it is absolutely impossible to do so, you should always make every effort to be at scheduled court dates.
What happens if you are unable to appear?
If there is some legitimate reason that you cannot appear at the scheduled time, you should attempt to have the hearing rescheduled or postponed (called a continuance) by notifying the opposing counsel or pro se litigant. For this to happen, the opposing attorney or pro se litigant must agree to the continuance, for the judge to allow it. Sometimes this is easier to accomplish than others, and the likelihood of getting it done will obviously depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the request. The bottom line is that it is critical that you should make every possible effort to attend each and every hearing.
Should you have an upcoming court hearing in family court, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either by email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a Free one hour no obligation consultation.