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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Lawyer
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First let me state that I live in Florida and my ex-wife lives

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First let me state that I live in Florida and my ex-wife lives in Georgia and the divorce was granted in Florida. I was served with papers from my ex-wife's lawyer on Wed. 09/11/2013 around 7:00 PM. These were in regard to a health insurance issue that was declared in our divorce from April 2012. These papers stated I must appear in court on Sept 23, 2013, for this matter. These papers state I have 30 days (from the date of receiving these papers) to respond to this issue, which would be 10/11/2013. I had to find a new lawyer (as I was very disappointed with the lawyer I had for the initial divorce). I will not be able to meet with my new lawyer until 09/30/2013.

My question is: Do I have to appear in court for this 09/23/2012 hearing so as not to be held in contempt of court?

I will be out of the country until 09/21/2013, and would like to get an answer to this question ASAP, so I know whether I have to make the 4-1/2 hour drive to Georgia for this hearing.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

A party who is notified of a hearing must appear or file a motion to continue it. If all you received was a motion, then you would not be in contempt of court if you do not appear - but the judge will rule against you, and you will forfeit the right to defend yourself. You would only be in contempt of the judge had ordered you to show up, which requires a subpeona or other court order.

You have given a very good reason for postponing the hearing. If you move to continue, it will likely be granted. But you unfortunately do not have the ability to just choose not to show up without consequences. Also, just filing the motion doesn't guarantee that the hearing will be continued, so you would want to check the court records (or ask a friend to call from the US and send you an email) so you know before you get back. If your wife's attorney is generally reasonable, he can agree to continue the hearing, which will make it more likely the judge will allow it. Your new lawyer can also file it for you and, if necessary, go to any required hearing. If you would prefer to file it yourself, some of the counties have forms online that can be used.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 19692
Experience: Lawyer
Lucy, Esq. and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.


The papers I received is a Summon that says "You are hereby summoned and required to file with the Clerk of said court and serve upon the Plaintiff's attorney, an answer to the Motion for Contempt which is herewith served upon you, within 30 days after service of this summons upon you".


 


Must I somehow file a motion for continuance. As I stated I have not even met with my new attorney yet, and he is in court all day today, and I leave on a cruise on Saturday 09/14/2013.


 


I do appreciate your responses.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for clarifying that. If the motion IS for contempt, and you do not appear, yes, you will be held in contempt of court.

The only way to avoid contempt is to have the hearing continued. If you wait to make the request until after you get back, it may be too late. If your lawyer has not yet entered an appearance in the case on your behalf, you can file the motion on your own without him.

Try calling or emailing your lawyer (or both!) to explain that this is an emergency and see if he can contact you during a break. Most lawyers check email during the day, even when they're in court. If you can get ahold of him now, he might be able to file a Motion to Continue on Monday. But you might want to start preparing a request, just in case. If you don't hear from him, it needs to be filed before you leave. But, again, call the other lawyer to see if they will agree. That can make it easier.

Also, call the courthouse to see if they'll accept a mailed or faxed motion. Most courthouses will, and that can save you the 4.5 hour drive.

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