It seems lately that a lot of litigants are confused about appearing in family court for their motion hearing. Some litigants proceed to Court under the mistaken belief that the hearing is an episode of Springer where they will get to tell the judge all of the horrible, awful things their ex has ever done. Others bring an entourage of people with the expectation that they will be allowed to have friends and family tell the judge what a wonderful parent they are. We have prepared this article to help explain what a motion hearing is and how to best prepare for appearing in Court to present the motion to the judge.
1. What is a motion?
A motion is a written request to the family law judge to make a decision on certain legal matters. If the case was just filed, it could be asking for temporary orders like establishing a temporary custody or visitation schedule, establishing an initial child support award or alimony or having your ex pay for your preliminary attorney fees.
If your family law motion is filed after a decree has been entered, the motion usually deals with requests to modify a prior order like changing custody or visitation, altering spousal support or lowering child support.
Usually, one side files a motion, along with notice of the motion to the other side, and the other side has an opportunity to file a written response which is referred to as an Opposition.
2. What is a motion hearing?
The hearing on the motion is the time set for the family law judge to hear from each of the parties about information contained in the written papers (motion and opposition). At the hearing, each party can argue its position and the judge can ask specific questions about the fact or law. At the end of the hearing, the judge will make orders based upon the arguments presented. These orders may be temporary if the judge wants to have a trial on the issues presented or they may be final orders if the judge feels that further hearing are not necessary to decide the issues.
3. A motion hearing is not….
A motion hearing is not a trial. A motion hearing is not the time to bring all of your witnesses to court or every single document you have ever accumulated against the other side. The judges will usually not take evidence or hear from witnesses at the motion hearing. A motion hearing is not the time to argue to the judge that your ex is a piece of garbage. If you plan to go into your motion hearing an air your dirty laundry, think again. Usually, the judge will not let you speak for an extended period of time and the judge is only interested in hearing the matters raised in the motion.
4. What can I expect at the motion hearing?
Most motion hearings in Clark County family court are set on a stacked calendar, meaning that the judge will be hearing 10-12 motions that day. The judge will not have all day to listen to the parties drone on and on. The judge will likely keep the pace of the motion moving and will expect you to present your argument professionally, quickly and concisely. The other side will have an opportunity to respond to anything you say and there is a possibility the judge will ask questions.
5. What can I do to prepare for the hearing?
There things you can do prior to the hearing to put your best foot forward with the judge. This includes: (1) dressing in neat and clean clothes; (2) being respectful to those in the courthouse including the marshals, clerks and judges; (3) showing up to your hearing on time; (4) bringing a copy of your motion and the other side’s opposition with you along with anything else that was filed in the case in an organized manner; (5) DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN TO COURT; and (6) having your argument prepared before the hearing.
We hope this article has been helpful and has shed some light on what you can expect at a motion hearing in family court. If you or someone you know needs representation at a motion hearing, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information.