EMERGENCY! - need help with court matter

I was supposed to go to court tomorrow, a 5-hour drive away, as the plaintiff in an action for child custody. Last night my car broke as I was leaving to drive to city in which hearing is, so I made arrangements to pick up a rental car by noon today. Rental agency cannot produce car and is unwilling to upgrade for free to next model up. I cannot afford next model up. Tried other agencies, and they are all booked out today at this point for the level I can afford. Car repairs will be completed sometime tomorrow, but court date is at 9am. I am proceeding pro se and need to request continuance, however, I read that it must be the attorney requesting the continuance in person. If I can’t afford an attorney, what is the best way to proceed? Will they make an exception and allow me to phone or fax in request for continuance? Help!! Thanks.

You might be able to try your luck with the clerk in the morning. You can call and let them know the situation and ask for a continuance. It might work. Your safer bet is to bite the bullet and spend the extra money on the rental car.

Thanks Crystal.

In the end it ended up being a complete debacle. I couldn’t get even a larger car until late in the afternoon, got about 20-30 mins on the road when I realized that in my panic I left the binder with all my email evidence in the back of the broken down car which was at the shop and it had closed. No continuance, so I ended up dismissing, but she is now suing for full custody herself.

This will mean that due to money and other stuff I will have to quit my job and move back to the area because I can’t sustain living across the state. By moving back, I’ll at least get to see my kids and afford child support when I eventually find work…but that may take a while since I’m quitting a job a few months after I took it. What are the legal ramifications of being forced to quit a job in order to be able to eventually afford to pay child support?

You will be required to pay child support, and a voluntary termination of employment on your part will not help you when the court determines the amount you pay. You can use the child support calculator on this website to determine the likely amount you will be required to pay your ex. If you are voluntarily unemployed, the court can impute income to you. It would be my recommendation to keep your current job while looking for employment closer to your children.

May not be able to keep the job. It’s up to the employer now. If the employer says that they won’t allow telecommuting, it’ll either be “keep the job and violate the temporary court order” or “lose the job, keep visitation, but not be able to pay child support”.

Just be aware that after child support is ordered, if arrears accrue you risk losing some important rights if you cannot pay. You can lose your license or even go to jail. I wish you luck with finding a solution for your situation.