How to Respond to a Motion
If you received a “motion,” it means that the other party wants the judge to make or change some court orders.
Read through the motion to figure out if you agree or disagree with what the other party is asking for. If you agree, talk to the other party about coming up with some mutually agreeable solutions.
If the two of you cannot reach an agreement, you can file an “opposition” to the other party’s motion. An “opposition” is a written statement that says why the judge should not give the other party what they asked for, and what you would like instead. If you don’t file an opposition, the other party might win automatically!
Q&A - Oppositions
Why is my ex taking me to court?
Either party can ask the judge to make or change court orders if needed. This can include making or changing a custody order, a visitation schedule, or a child support amount. There are different standards that have to be proved for a judge to change a court order, which you can learn about here.
In addition, if court orders are not being followed, either party can take the matter back to the judge to have the order enforced and ask to hold the other party in contempt. If your ex claimed in a motion that you are not following court orders, your opposition should explain to the judge that you are following the order or the reason why you are not following the order.
Is there a deadline to file an opposition?
Yes. Oppositions normally must be filed with the court within 10 business days after the other side served the motion on you. If you received the motion in the mail, you get an additional 3 calendar days from the date it was mailed.
Do I have to file an opposition? Can’t I just argue my case in court?
There may not even be a court date for you to talk to the judge in person. If you do not file an opposition, the judge might grant the other party’s motion automatically just based on their written request. This means the other party may get everything that was asked for in the motion and you will not have a chance to tell the judge your side of the story. If you disagree with any part of the motion, be sure to file an opposition.
How to Respond to a Motion
Step 1: Select and Complete the Paperwork
You will need to complete an Opposition and possibly a Financial Disclosure Form (if there are financial issues for the judge to decide).
The Financial Disclosure Form
This form is required if you or the other party are asking to change any financial orders, such as child support or spousal support. You must attach your three most recent paystubs to this form.
There are four oppositions available depending on the issues raised in the motion:
Opposition to Motion for Temporary Orders: This opposition may be used by parents and/or spouses who want to respond to the other person's request for a temporary order regarding custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and/or possession of the home. You can check "not applicable" for any of the issues that do not apply to your situation.
Opposition to Motion to Modify Custody, Visitation, and Child Support: This opposition may be used by parents who want to respond to the other parent’s request to change the custody or visitation schedule and/or child support.
Opposition to Motion for Permission to Relocate: This opposition may be used by parents who want to respond to a parent's request to relocate with the children.
Opposition to Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause Regarding Contempt: This opposition may be used to respond to the other party's request for the judge to hold a party in contempt. Opposition to Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause (pdf fillable)
Step 2: File the Paperwork
After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the same district court where your case was filed. Visit Find My Court if you are not sure where to find the district court.
The court will charge you a filing fee to file your papers. The fee is different in every county. Find out from the court what the filing fee will be.
If you cannot afford the filing fee, please see Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.
Step 3: Serve the Other Party
Be sure to read and follow the instructions here to make sure the other party is properly served with your papers. It is up to YOU to serve the documents; the court does not serve the documents for you.
All of the documents you filed must be served on the other party, or, if the other party is represented by an attorney, the documents must be served on the attorney. This is to make sure the other party knows about your request and has a chance to respond to your papers.
How to Serve the Papers:
You must send the documents through the U.S. Mail (you can send them by regular mail, there is no need to send them by certified mail).
Once you serve the documents, you must fill out a Certificate of Mailing that states when, where, and how you served the documents. File the Certificate of Mailing with the court.
You can find answers to common questions about service on the Frequently Asked Questions: Service page.
Step 4: Wait for a Decision
The judge will give the other party some time to file a response to your opposition.
If the other party does not file a response, you need to let the judge know the case is ready for review. You do this by filling out a "Request for Submission," which lets the judge know it is time to review the papers and make a decision. Fill out the form at file it at the court.
The judge will read through the paperwork submitted by both parties. The judge may set a hearing if the judge feels it would be helpful to ask the parties some questions in person.
The judge will make a decision about the issues raised in the motion, opposition, and reply. You will receive an "order" that outlines everything the judge decided.
Obey the terms of the order. If you do not, you could be held in contempt for refusing to comply.