Can the Defendant in a Divorce Reschedule the Trial Date in Michigan?

By Wayne Thomas

In Michigan, divorce trials often involve the participation of more than just the spouses. At times, the court must juggle the competing schedules of parties, attorneys and witnesses in order to ensure attendance. However, while judges will generally reschedule a trial for good cause, the court is also mindful of delay tactics. In that light, a judge will consider the reason for the request, as well as the timing and number of requests, in determining whether to alter the trial date.

In Michigan, divorce trials often involve the participation of more than just the spouses. At times, the court must juggle the competing schedules of parties, attorneys and witnesses in order to ensure attendance. However, while judges will generally reschedule a trial for good cause, the court is also mindful of delay tactics. In that light, a judge will consider the reason for the request, as well as the timing and number of requests, in determining whether to alter the trial date.

Initial Scheduling

Mandatory pretrial and settlement conferences are part of the divorce process in Michigan. These conferences are an opportunity for the divorcing couple to attempt to resolve any outstanding issues and avoid a trial. If an agreement cannot be reached before or at these conferences, the judge will issue a domestic scheduling order. This order will include deadlines for discovery, pretrial motions and mediation, and set a date for trial.

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Rescheduling Request

Once the trial date is set, either party may file a written motion for adjournment with the court to request that the trial be rescheduled. The motion must include facts supporting the reason why you cannot comply with the current trial date. You must also indicate whether this is the first request or if any other adjournments have been granted or denied. This is accomplished by titling your motion based on that number, such as "Plaintiff's Request for Third Adjournment."

Timing

In order to have your request approved, you must show good cause for the rescheduling. In evaluating whether this requirement has been met, the judge will closely consider the timing of the motion. For example, while an inability to depose a witness before a trial date due to financial constraints might be good cause, a judge could deny the request if it was inexplicably made on the date of the trial. Further, some judges will not consider any requests filed less than one or two days before the scheduled date, except in cases of emergency. Certain judges may also, as a rule, grant only one request per party. For this reason, it is important to ascertain a particular judge's policy regarding rescheduling requests in advance.

Ruling

After the court receives and considers your motion, the judge will issue an order either rescheduling the trial, usually immediately, or denying the motion. As part of granting or denying the request, the court may impose additional conditions, including payment for costs associated with any delays. If payment is not made according to the order, the judge may withdraw the adjournment and proceed with the trial as originally scheduled.

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