What happens if we don’t have enough scheduled time to finish a hearing?
When scheduling a hearing the attorneys attempt to estimate to the best of their ability the amount of time necessary for a given hearing. Sometimes, this estimate is inaccurate. Due process requires that both sides be given an approximately equal amount of time to present their evidence and argument. If there is not enough time to present evidence for one side it may be necessary to continue the hearing. Unfortunately, this may result in a delay in receiving an order but is the proper procedure.
In one recent Second District Court of Appeal case the trial court was hearing the issue of attorney’s fees and costs. The Wife was not able to complete the presentation of evidence for her case. The Husband was not given an opportunity to present any evidence. The trial court continued the hearing; however, prior to the scheduled hearing the trial court denied the motion for attorney’s fees in favor of the Husband. Even though the Wife had some opportunity to present evidence and the court ruled in favor of the Husband, it was still error to rule prior to allowing both sides to present evidence.
A trial court’s failure to allow a party to present evidence to be heard on the issues pending before the court constitutes a denial of due process.”
See, Farrell v. Farrell, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D882 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012).
Dustin Michael Butler is an Attorney with Martin Law Firm, P.L., whose practice focuses in Family Law and Civil Litigation. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida and the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida. He primarily practices in Lee County Florida in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida.