The family court system in Georgia has jurisdiction over various legal matters such as child support, child custody, adoption, paternity verification, divorce, legal separation, and domestic violence. If you are seeking a legal order regarding a family law matter, eventually you will appear before a judge to have your agreement approved or denied. Depending on your circumstances and relationship with the other adult involved in the case, you may need to attend several hearings. Even though the court makes every effort to accommodate all parties in scheduling court dates, it is possible to miss a hearing. Being aware of what happens when you miss a family court hearing lets you know what to expect if you or the other party does not attend court as ordered.
If you or the other party has a legitimate reason for failing to attend a hearing, it may be possible to request a continuance. A continuance is a postponement of the hearing to another date that is suitable for both parties. Common reasons for delaying a hearing are late notification, an attorney scheduling conflict, military service, medical issues (verifiable illness or surgery) and newly discovered issues that require research. Remember, even if you or your former partner requests a continuance, it is not guaranteed that one will be granted especially if the request is made on the day of the hearing. Georgia family court has individuals who have waited for a year or more to receive a hearing making some judges unwilling to deviate from their schedule without being presented with a significant reason for doing so.
Failing to attend a family court hearing causes significant financial hardship on a person and his or her family. If you have taken off of work and hired an attorney to appear with you in family court only to find out that your former spouse or other parent has not appeared, it becomes necessary for you to miss work again at a later date while retaining an attorney for longer. A judge may penalize the party who did not appear by imposing fines or requesting that they pay the attorney fees for the party who appeared in addition to rescheduling the hearing for a later date.
Contempt of Court
Making a habit of missing hearing dates or failing to give any type of notice before not showing up could lead to a contempt motion being filed against you or the individual who did not appear. Penalties vary and are often influenced by the history of the case along with the circumstances surrounding the absence. Failure to appear in family court could result in anything from additional monetary fines to mandatory jail time. In some extreme circumstances, bench warrants for arrest have been filed leading to one party having a criminal record that affects their ability to maintain employment or gain custody of children in child support battles.
If you or someone close to you has missed a family court hearing or believes you will miss a hearing in the near future, it is a good idea to contact an attorney before serious damage is done. The family law attorneys at Vayman & Teilbaum realize that unexpected things happen, even when you are in the middle of a serious court case. We are prepared to provide you with the legal advice you need to protect your rights. Contact us today and schedule an appointment at one of our four Atlanta, Georgia locations.