Filing a Motion
Motions must be filed within a specific timeframe. This period varies by jurisdiction, but it is commonly 24 days before the next scheduled appearance in court. In addition, the motions may be filed with several forms of accompanying documentation, including the following:
- Notice of Motion - A notice of motion is like a coversheet for the motion. It summarizes the case information, the type of motion being filed, and what is being sought in the motion. Although this is just a summary, it should be as specific as possible. It should also be written clearly and concisely in order to avoid confusion in the court.
- Certification - Certifications are detailed documents used in some motions to advise judges of what you want in the case and why you should receive it. They may be accompanied by supporting evidence, such as financial documents and prior divorce records. A certification may be limited in length from 15 to 25 pages, depending on if it is for an original motion or a response.
- Notice to Litigants - This form advises all relevant parties of when the motion will be heard and the final date to file a response.
Types of Motions
Several different types of motions may be filed in divorce court, and they fall into one of the following categories: initial motions, responses, and motions of modification. An initial motion for court may be filed before a case begins or while it is still being processed. A motion to modify divorce decree may be filed during the case or afterward. A modification filed while the case is still in progress is a motion for reconsideration while a motion to modify divorce decree filed after the case is complete is a post-judgment motion.
Following are some of the motions commonly filed in divorce court.
- Motion for Support - This type of motion is a request for financial support from the spouse in the form of child support or alimony. It may be filed before the case begins to ask for help until the case has been decided. Child support or alimony provided in the interim may be different than the amount in the final judgment.
- Motion to Modify Child Support - If an initial judgment for child support is too high or too low due to a significant change in circumstances, a motion to modify child support may be submitted.
- Motion to Dismiss - A motion to dismiss asks a judge to decide whether a claim made in the case is valid. Claims may be dismissed when they have no legal bearing or when failure to comply with procedural requirements, such as the statute of limitations, has made them null and void.
- Continuance - A motion for continuance asks the judge for extra time before the next hearing. This type of motion for court is often filed in conjunction with a motion for discovery, which allows a party time to gather evidence.
- Order to Show Cause - Orders to show cause are used in conjunction with a request to find someone in contempt of a previous order. The order to show cause, if granted, instructs the other party to appear in court to explain why he or she shouldn't be held in contempt of the order.