Failing to appear when summoned to court can have a disastrous impact on your case. Aside from preventing you from presenting an argument and presenting your evidence, missing a court appearance in family court could also subject you to civil penalties and/or fines.
If you do not appear at your scheduled court date, you lose the right to argue on your own behalf or present evidence and the court will rely only on the evidence and testimony from the other side. Further, under California law, failure to appear in court if previously ordered to do so by a judicial officer in Family Law Court could lead to a contempt action and violation of an order, resulting in both harsh penalties.
What are the Consequences of Missing a Family Law Court Appearance?
If you miss a family court appearance, proceedings could continue without you and you would lose the opportunity to present your case. In most cases, this will result in a default judgment against you and in favor of the other party.1 In other words, failing to show up in court could result in an easy victory for the opposing party, and you could lose child custody, visitation or property rights.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me?
An experienced family law attorney can assist you if you failed to appear in family court. Some justification for a failure to appear include:
- Lack of intent – If you did not willfully intend to miss your court appearance, you may not be held liable for failure to appear. Missing a court appearance as a result of an emergency or other extenuating circumstance (such as illness or natural disaster) is a viable defense/justification for failure to appear.
- Insufficient notice – If you were not properly notified of your scheduled appearance, you cannot be held responsible for the failure to appear. For example, if you never received a copy of the motion/order to show cause or request for order filed by opposing party/counsel and you genuinely believed that you did not have a scheduled hearing, you were not adequately informed of any appearance.
However, your best option is to hire an attorney in the first place. If your attorney can prove that making your way to the court is overly burdensome to you, you may be able to reschedule or continue your hearing or even have it moved to an alternate venue in some circumstances. Further, you can hire an “appearance attorney” or a limited scope attorney for the sole purpose of representing you in court in your place and at that court hearing. An appearance attorney or limited scope attorney can be available for one or a few hearings on a limited retainer.
Call the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you have missed a family court appearance, contact our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients in family law cases. We are confident that we can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
We have offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville so there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich family law attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us at (888) 749-7428 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.