blog home Family Law Missed Court Dates Can Lead to Contempt of Court

Missed Court Dates Can Lead to Contempt of Court

By Sheryl Rentz on May 28, 2021

brown judge's gavel

When you begin the process of determining child custody or dividing your property in a divorce, the Pennsylvania courts expect you to conduct yourself with a certain level of professionalism… and punctuality. As you have asked a judge to settle matters between you and your ex-spouse, she will not like her time wasted. This means you must come to all court appearances on time and respect the authority of the court throughout your proceedings.

However, divorces and custody battles are uniquely stressful. Either can completely upturn your life. Meeting your obligations to the court is a top priority, but if you do need to miss a court date or reschedule a hearing, there are ways that a Montco family law attorney can assist you.

Consequences of Missing a Court Appearance

Whether you are involved in a contested divorce or custody battle for your children, your appearances in court will have a huge role in how the judge perceives your commitment. You are expected to appear on time to every hearing without issue; missing an appearance, especially without notifying the court or your attorney in advance, will not be forgotten.

Missing a court appearance means missing your chance to advocate for your side of the case. You may not be given the opportunity to hear your ex’s testimony, review evidence, and deliberate with the judge. By not showing up, you could unwittingly give your ex a head start in the case.

It is considered also an act of contempt to miss a court appearance. While most divorcees and parents attend proceedings voluntarily, the truth is that you are there due to a court order. Violating that order is considered being in contempt of the court and comes with heavy consequences.

If you are held in contempt of court by a judge, then the judge can issue a bench warrant, which allows law enforcement to arrest you and force you to attend hearings, and requires you to pay court fines. It will also impact how the judge views your case and your character during proceedings.

Bottom line: missing a court appearance can irreparably harm your family law case. If you know in advance that you cannot attend a hearing, your best option is to talk to your attorney about rescheduling the appearance.

Rescheduling a Court Appearance in Pennsylvania

Preferably, you should attend every court appearance on time, but courts do consider emergencies and can reschedule hearings if you provide notice. The best route is to file a motion for continuance with your family court at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

You can speak to your attorney about submitting the petition with your county court, or you can download the Montgomery County or Chester County forms on your own. Courts have also become more open to remote appearances via video calls since the pandemic, which is another option if you have difficulties physically reaching the court.

At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., our Montgomery County custody lawyers have represented clients in many complex and contested family law matters. Whether you are dealing with a custody dispute or high-asset divorce, our legal team can guide you through the process and ensure that you are skillfully represented before a judge. Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., at (610) 645-0100 today to schedule a free consultation.

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Posted in: Family Law

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