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Motion for extension of time and default final judgment

Miami, FL |

Should a motion for extension of time always be filed with the court or can it be given just to the opposing side's attorney. Is this a privilege that is extended between lawyers? The defendant did not answer lawsuit with the requisite 20 days and put in a motion for extension of time. However this was never filed in court only to the opposing side's attorney. Is this allowed or should a default final judgement been entered after the 20 days had passed?

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Attorney answers 1


It is extremely common for extensions to be agreed upon between lawyers as a "courtesy." This is particularly true when we are talking about the defendant filing an answer.

As a technical matter, whenever a court deadline is to be extended, a motion should be filed with the court. This is true even if both sides agree. That said, if both sides agree, and no hearing is set, it is very common in Florida STATE courts for the parties to simply agree to the extension without filing anything with the court. This is uncommon in Florida FEDERAL courts, because judges get reminders from the clerk about deadlines.

If an agreement was reached to extend the time to answer, I would normally not advise that a motion for default be filed. The clerk of court might automatically enter a default, but the defendant will likely be able to get the court to set aside the default. The plaintiff will then look less credible to the court, because the plaintiff told the defendant one thing and then told the court another.

If an agreement was not reached, but a motion was served and not filed, the plaintiff may be best advised to file the unusual motion for court's default (as opposed to a motion for clerk's default). A clerk's default may not be appropriate in this circumstance, because a clerk's default can only be entered if the defendant has failed to file OR serve any paper in the action. A court's default is proper when the defendant has failed to file an answer, file a motion to dismiss, or other present defenses.

Be aware of the fact that the court or clerk must enter a "default" prior to the court entering a "default final judgment." Typically, when a defendant does not file or serve anything, a plaintiff files a "Motion for Clerk's Default," waits for the clerk to enter a default, and then files a "Motion for Default Final Judgment" (or, if the judge is open to it, just sends a letter to the judge with a copy of a proposed final judgment).

In your case, you might follow this same procedure, seeking a "Court's Default" rather than a "Clerk's Default," but it would not be uncommon to do a single "Motion for Court's Default and Default Final Judgment." There are advantages and disadvantages to filing the two motions as a single joint motion. I recommend speaking further with an attorney to determine which procedure is appropriate in your case.

Best of luck to you.

The information provided in this and other answers on Avvo are general in nature and limited to the facts as stated. The information provided in this and other answers on Avvo should not be construed as legal advice on which the reader relies without further consultation with an attorney. No attorney-client relationship is created on Avvo question & answer forums. This attorney is licensed and admitted to practice law in the State of Florida only.



Thanks for the information. How much time is usually given when an extension has been agreed upon between attorneys. Is there a maximum amount of time 60 , 90 days etc.?

Ralph H. Schofield Jr.

Ralph H. Schofield Jr.


In state court (where I am assuming your case is), there is no rule that sets a maximum for such an extension. I have had them go six months or longer, because the parties wanted to engage in settlement discussions or because the defendants were a group that had similar defenses but were impossible to get together to discuss the case. That said, unless there is a good reason, a proactive judge will not be happy with either side allowing the delay to last more than 90 days. The typical extension, in my experience, is 10-20 days beyond original deadline.