Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Procedure

Sometimes it is necessary to seek a continuance or delay of a hearing, but it may be difficult to do so if you have a trial date set in your Miami family law case. The decision to grant or deny a request for rescheduling of trial is within a Florida family court's discretion, but on appeal, that discretion can be reviewed to determine if it was abused. What factors may lead an appellate court to reverse an order denying a request for continuance? We examine them in the case Ramadon v. Ramadon, 216 So.3d 26 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017). 

Unfortunately, the parties in this case had long and what appears to be contentious litigation that spanned 11 years from the date of filing, not including the time it took to appeal the case. The appellate court noted that both parties participated in delay tactics throughout the process, and relevant to the appeal, the former husband continually refused to turn over financial documents needed to assess the value and marital nature of his business interest. Additionally, the former husband failed to pay accounting and attorneys' fees for the former wife ordered during the course of the case. 

Because the former husband did not produce his financial records, even though ordered to do so by the court, the former wife filed a motion to continue the trial date twice - two months before trial and again, approximately two weeks before trial. Both motions were denied even though the former wife presented evidence that she would not be able to present a case regarding the former husband's business at trial because of the former husband's refusal to produce discovery.

The former wife was denied alimony in her 27-year marriage and received no assets in the equitable distribution even though the parties owned a marital home and the former husband's business likely had a marital component. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court's final judgment, noting the court abused its discretion in denying the continuance request because it resulted in a clear injustice to the former wife. In essence, the former wife was being punished for the former husband's non-compliance with orders to produce discovery. 

This case illustrates the importance of staying on top of discovery requests throughout your Miami family law case. Discovery enables you to prepare for trial and obtain the proof you need to prevail on your requests. A good discovery strategy is important to your case, and it starts with consulting with a Miami family law attorney.