In family law cases, every time a hearing is delayed that means another 3+ months of no change. If a parent doesn’t have much time with their child, it won’t change until a judge orders a change. The best way to avoid unnecessary delays in your case is to bring in an attorney early on so that your attorney can write up and file the necessary documents before the hearing. Two examples of this are, (1) when you are served with a restraining order, and (2) when you get a report from a family court services mediator suggesting a parenting plan.
In both cases, your attorney needs time to prepare documents to file with the court before any hearing. If an attorney doesn’t have time to file before the hearing, most of the time he will go into court and request a continuance (when a hearing is delayed while the attorneys have time to prepare). To the attorney, 3 months delay of a hearing is no big deal. He has multiple cases and he isn’t the one who doesn’t get to see his kids. But for the parent who is not able to see his children until the court can have a hearing on a restraining order, 3 months is a lifetime.
Avoiding these extra delays is usually within the power of the parents. If you call a family law attorney as soon as you are served with a restraining order or receive the family court services mediator’s report, the attorney should have time to file papers with the court to outline the parenting plan that works best for you.
To give an example, consider a father served with a restraining order (for simplicity I will assume the mother filed a restraining order against the father). If the judge grants the temporary orders, as happens in the majority of cases, the father will at minimum not be allowed to see the children until after the hearing. There is usually a period of 15 days from when the restraining order is served until the hearing takes place. If father calls a family law attorney right away, the attorney can file a response with the court, outlining the father’s position on the alleged abuse, reasons why he should be able to spend time with the children, and a proposed custody schedule.
An attorney who gets called a few days before the hearing is not going to be able to do much more than show up and ask for a continuance so that the attorney has time to properly respond to the allegations of abuse. If you get served with papers from family court, you should call a family law attorney the same day so that your attorney can show up at the hearing prepared to argue on your behalf. Going through family court can be a slow and confusing process so anything you can do to speed it up will make your life easier and less stressful.
To Summarize, the most important point here is, call an attorney as soon as you get served with papers.
The attorney may need to get started working on the case right away if you have been served with papers. You may decide that you do not need the attorney to do anything right away. In that case, the attorney you meet with can tell you to wait until a certain point to call him back so he can get started. In the mean time though, you can learn about the process so it doesn’t seem as scary to you.
No matter where you are in the process, consulting with an attorney can help you make your decision with a better understanding of what is at stake. Attorney Paul D. McGuire at the Law Office of Paul D. McGuire can help you with this and other issues with your relationship. Call (858) 242-5667 today to schedule a free consultation.