Motion Practice in Utah Family Law Cases

Family law cases in Utah are considered civil litigation, but they operate a little differently when it comes to filing motions.

What is a Motion?

A motion is a request for relief made to the court.  Motions are generally written briefs that are filed with the court.  The party filing the motion is called the “moving party.”  The non-moving party in a motion is called the “opposing party.”  Once the motion is file the opposing party has an opportunity to respond to the motion.  The moving party then gets the last say by filing a reply brief to the opposing brief.  A hearing is scheduled with the judge where the parties give oral argument, and then the court rules on the motion.

How is Motion Practice Different in Family Law Cases?

Motion practice is a little bit different in family law cases because the time for filing briefs is different and the commissioners govern motion practice rather than judges.

Timing – the timing for filing briefs in regular civil litigation is governed by Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 7 which states that when a motion is filed, the opposing party has ten (10) days after the motion is served to file an opposition brief and then the moving party has five (5) days after being served with the opposing brief to file a reply brief.

In a family law case the timing is completely different and is governed by Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 101.  A family law motion must be filed 14 days before the hearing date for the motion.  The opposing brief is due 5 business days before the hearing, and the reply brief is due 3 business days before the hearing.

The Commissioner Presides – For motion practice in family law cases the commissioner is the decision maker.  If a party does not like the commissioner’s ruling, he can object to it within 14 days and have a judge reevaluate whether the commissioner’s decision was the correct one.

Motion practice in Utah family law cases can be confusing.  Give our Utah family law attorneys a call to find out more.

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