1. Before you ask for more time
First, determine whether you can "vacate," or throw out, your judgment. For example, if you were given court papers, and you failed to appear in court or respond, the court may have entered a default judgment against you. You can file a motion to vacate a default judgment.
If you successfully vacate the judgment, you will be able to stay on the property until the court enters a new judgment. This will give you more time to live on the property.
If you have recently been hospitalized, had a death in the family, or had some other emergency, you may be able to get more time to move out by filing a Motion to Extend Time to Move Out.
2. Prepare your motion
Learn more about preparing, filing, and presenting motions in court.
3. File your motion
File your forms with the clerk of the court where your eviction case was heard.
Now that you have filled out your forms, you need to file them with the clerk. The method you are required to use depends on the county where you are filing.
- E-filing: Most counties require you to file your forms and documents electronically. See E-Filing Basics for more information.
- Paper filing: If you are allowed to paper file because you have a sensitive case type or have an E-filing Exemption Certificate, take your completed forms to the circuit court clerk's office in the courthouse. See courthouse locations. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court. They will give you a copy for your records.
Once your forms are stamped, deliver a copy to the Sheriff and your landlord. Filing the motion will prevent the Sheriff from evicting you until the judge hears your motion, so you will have at least another week or so to move out.
Learn more about when you should file a motion, what to include, and the cost.
4. Go to court
How you will find out about the court date (or hearing date) and time depends on how you filed your case.
- E-filing: The website you used to electronically file may let you pick your court date (or hearing date) and time. If it does not, contact the clerk.
- Paper filing: If you filed in person at the courthouse, the clerk will let you pick or they may pick for you.
You have the right to represent yourself in court. However, you will be expected to follow the court's rules and procedures when representing yourself. The judge and court staff are not allowed to give you advice or help you with your case. To navigate the court system, you need to know some basic information about your case. Most of the information should be listed on court papers:
- Plaintiff's or Petitioner's name
- Defendant's or Respondent's name
- Case number
- Judicial circuit
If you are filing a case, you are called the plaintiff. If a case has been filed against you, you are called the defendant. In some cases, the plaintiff is called the petitioner, and the defendant is called the respondent.
- Be polite and dress the way you would for a job interview;
- Get to the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your hearing time;
- Go to the courtroom listed on your court forms. If your forms do not have a courtroom number, look for a list of cases at the courthouse or ask the circuit clerk;
- Check-in quietly with the courtroom staff;
- Wait for your name and case number to be called;
- When your case is called, walk up to the judge and introduce yourself;
- Explain briefly what you want out of the case;
- After listening to you and to the other side, the judge tells you what happens next.
Updated: June 2018