My Ex Filed a Motion. What Do I Do Now?

The first thing you need to do is thoroughly read the entire motion and any documents that came with it.  Some language may appear irrelevant or too formal, but read it anyway. You need to understand what your ex is specifically asking the court to do. The document titled “Notice of Motion” contains a list of the specific relief your ex is requesting.

It is possible that this will be an emotionally difficult undertaking because you might feel yourself getting angry/upset/annoyed/[fill in the blank] with every word you read. Just take a deep breath and get through it. Then, read through the document titled “Certification” or, if your ex filed the motion without an attorney, look for a document that provides a narrative of the reasons as to why he or she is asking the court to take certain actions. If the Certification (or this narrative) references any exhibits attached, refer to them as you read along.

As you are reading, try to understand your ex’s perspective. You certainly do not need to agree with it, but you need to try to understand it. This will be helpful to you because understanding your ex’s perspective is the first step to articulating your own response. This is what the judge will do. The judge will read that motion, then read your response and attempt to understand both sides before making their decision. Understanding your ex’s perspective will be helpful to you in preparing for oral argument as well.

Once you are finished reading the document, you should call the court immediately and find out when the “return date” of the motion is. The “return date” is the date on which the court will schedule a hearing and hear oral argument on the motion.  The return date should be noted on the Notice of Motion, but it is wise to confirm it with the court if it is not clear.

As a side note, whether there will be oral argument in your case is entirely within the court’s (the judge’s) discretion. That means the court decides if there will be oral argument, not you or your ex.

Once you have read the entire submission and determined the return date,  you need to decide whether you are going to retain an attorney to help you navigate through this. Your attorney will prepare and file your response and appear with you in court on the return date.   If you want an attorney to help you with this motion, you need to meet with and retain that attorney as soon as possible due to the tight timeline involved.