What Is a Motion to Continue or Motion for Continuance?

General Definition

A motion to continue or motion for continuance is a legal request submitted by a party in a lawsuit, seeking to postpone or reschedule a hearing, trial, or other court proceeding to a later date. This motion may be filed for various reasons, such as the need for additional time to prepare or the unavailability of key witnesses or evidence. It is crucial to recognize that the specific criteria and procedures for granting a motion to continue can differ among states, as each jurisdiction has its own set of laws and regulations governing the allowance and handling of such motions.

Overview of State Court Authorities


“A motion to continue shall be granted only upon a showing that good cause exists and that delay is indispensable to the interests of justice.” (See In re Tyrus T., No. 1 CA-JV 19-0026, at *3 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 2, 2019).)

It is well settled that “where a party seeks a continuance due to the absence of a witness, there must be a showing that the witness's testimony would be material, were he allowed to testify, and that the moving party has used due diligence to procure the attendance of the witness.” (See Dykeman v. Ashton (1968) 8 Ariz. App. 327…)


Under Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332(d), “[i]n ruling on a motion or application for continuance, the court must consider all the facts and circumstances that are relevant to the determination. These may include: (1) the proximity of the trial date; (2) whether there was any previous continuance, extension of time, or delay of trial due to any party; (3) the length of the continuance requested; (4) the availability of alternative means to address the problem that gave rise to the motion or application for a continuance…


“The decision to grant or deny a request for a continuance is left to the sound discretion of the trial court.” (See Todd v. Bear Valley Village Apartments (1999) 980 P.2d 973…)


When it comes to deciding on whether to grant or deny a motion for continuance, among some of the factors that a trial court may consider at the time it rendering its decision include: (1) the timeliness of the request for continuance; (2) the likely length of the delay; (3) the age and complexity of the case; (4) the granting of other continuances in the past…

District of Columbia

“In reviewing an administrative denial of a motion for continuance ... we are guided by precedents from both agency and trial court settings.” (Recio v. D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Bd. (2013) 75 A.3d 134, 144 citing King v. District of Columbia Water & Sewer Auth. (2002) 803 A.2d 966…)


“Matters of scheduling are within the discretion of the trial judge, and the court may deny a motion for a continuance when the movant caused the dilemma that created the need for the continuance.” (See Carlton v. Zepski, No. 243, 2017, at *6 (Del. Feb. 7, 2018).)


Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.460 governs continuances and provides: “A motion for continuance shall be in writing unless made at a trial and, except for good cause shown, shall be signed by the party requesting the continuance. The motion shall state all of the facts that the movant contends entitle the movant to a continuance. If a continuance is sought on the ground of nonavailability of a witness…”


“A denial of a motion for continuance is not commensurate to the exclusion of a witness, even where the denial results in the absence of said witness at trial. Equating the two ignores the practical reality that an absent witness's testimony can be preserved by deposition, offered at a later date if a separate motion for continuance is granted for some other reason, or offered by the witness himself if his own schedule changes to allow him to appear at trial.” (Pointer v. Roberts (2010) 702 S.E.2d 130…)


“The rules governing continuances are specified in Supreme Court Rule 231.” (Vollentine v. Christoff (1975) 24 Ill. App. 3d 92, 94 citing Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110A, par. 231)


“The decision to grant or deny a motion for a continuance is within the sound discretion of the trial court.” (See Q.R. v. D.W. (In re L.D.), No. 22A-AD-665, at *6-7 (Ind. App. Aug. 30, 2022).)


“The fact that a motion to continue is agreed upon does not eliminate or diminish the judge's role in deciding that motion. If judges were required to allow joint motions to continue, there would be no need to present them. The rules, however, provide that a continuance request, even if assented to, must be presented…”


“The granting of a continuance is within the district court's discretion, based on all facts and circumstances surrounding the request.” (See In re Conservatorship of Chapman, A13-2290, at *6 (Minn. Ct. App. Oct. 14, 2014).)


“Rule 65 governs continuances in civil cases. Rule 65.01 provides that a continuance can be granted for good cause shown." (See Harris v. Desisto (1996) 932 S.W.2d 435…)

North Carolina

“Continuances are not favored and the party seeking a continuance has the burden of showing sufficient grounds for it.” (See Shankle v. Shankle (1976) 289 N.C. 473, 482-83.)

North Dakota

“Absent an abuse of discretion, this Court will not overturn a trial court's decision regarding a motion for a continuance.” (See Alerus Financial v. Lamb (2003) 670 N.W.2d 351…)

New Jersey

“It is the duty of the one applying for a continuance to disclose what he intends to prove by the absent witness so that the court may determine the question of materiality of the witness. A mere statement that the witness is material is insufficient.” (See Ogden v. Gibbons, 5 N.J.L. 518; Gall v. New York & New Brunswick Auto Express Co. (1944) 131 N.J.L. 346…)

New Mexico

“The trial court does not abuse its discretion when it denies a motion for continuance which is based upon speculation and conjecture concerning what might turn up upon further investigation.” (March v. State (1987) 105 N.M. 453…)


“Generally, an attorney's illness is good grounds for a continuance. And when that attorney has not been dilatory in conducting his case, the district court's denial of a continuance may be an abuse of discretion. However, denial of a motion to continue based on an attorney's illness is proper when ‘the party whose attorney is ill is represented by other counsel’ or the attorney's absence is not prejudicial to the client.” (Bongiovi v. Sullivan (2006) 122 Nev. 556…)

New York

“Liberality should be exercised in granting postponements or continuances of trials to obtain material evidence and to prevent miscarriages of justice.” (DiMauro v. Met. Suburban Bus. Auth., 105 A.D.2d 236, 241 [2nd Dept. 1984].) “It is an abuse of discretion to deny a continuance where the application complies with every requirement of the law and is not…”


“All requests for continuances must be made in writing and filed seven days before the scheduled hearing date. However, the Court may consider a Motion for Continuance that is filed less than seven days before the scheduled hearing date upon demonstration of emergency or for other unforeseen circumstances.” In re N.C. (2019) Ohio 567, 10.)


"The granting or refusal of an application for continuance on the ground of want of time for the defendant's counsel to prepare for trial is ordinarily discretionary with the trial court.” (See Ex Parte Cannis (1946) 83 Okla. Crim. 113…)


“A motion for a continuance is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court and its ruling thereon will be disturbed upon appeal only for an abuse of that discretion.” (See Matter of Marriage of Daniel E. Brant (1999) 161 Or. App. 299…)


“[w]hether to grant or deny a motion for continuance, [...] is a matter within the discretion of the trial court, and its decision will not be reversed on appeal unless there has been a manifest abuse of discretion.” (Sonder v. Sonder (1988) 378 Pa. Super. 474, 524 citing Feingold v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (1985) 339 Pa. Super. 15, 19; Love v.Harrisburg Coca-Cola Bottling Co. (1979) 273 Pa. Super. 210…)

Rhode Island

It is well settled that pursuant to Rule 6, "No motion for a continuance of a cause standing for trial on the ground of the absence of a material witness shall be granted, unless such motion be supported by an affidavit which shall state the name of the witness, if known, the facts to which he is expected to testify, the grounds of such expectation, the endeavors which have been made to procure his attendance or deposition, and the expectation which the party has of procuring his attendance or deposition at a future time." (See Dod v. Grimes (1924) 46 R.I. 9…)


A motion for continuance must be made after the defendant files their defense. A motion may be granted with (1) sufficient cause supported by affidavit; or (2) consent of the parties; or (3) by operation of law. (Tex. R. Civ. P. § 251) If the basis for a continuance is for “want of testimony,” the affidavit must show: (1) that the testimony is material; (2) that due diligence has been used to obtain the testimony…


“V.R.C.P. 40(d)(1) specifies information to be included in an affidavit which accompanies a motion for a continuance.” (See Kokoletsos v. Frank Babcock Son (1987) 149 Vt. 33…)


It is well settled that “whether a trial court should have granted a continuance in a summary judgment proceeding generally is not subject to appellate review if the party seeking the continuance did not comply with the requirements of CR 56(f).” (See Turner v. Kohler (1989) 54 Wn. App. 688…)


It is well settled that “this court has indicated that failure to grant a continuance is not improper where no request therefor was made.” (See In Interest of D. H (1977) 76 Wis. 2d 286…)

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