Why would the court dismiss my divorce case?
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I filed my divorce petition several months ago. I was just notified that the court is about to dismiss my divorce case for inactivity. Can you give me more information about what might be going on and what steps I need to take to finalize my divorce? My spouse has not been cooperative, and I think that might be the issue.”
It’s estimated that 40 to 50% of all marriages end in divorce. That’s means thousands of divorce cases are filed each year in court houses across the United States. Courts, concerned with inactive cases which are crowding the court system, will periodically review cases which have not had activity within a specified time and send notifications to the appropriate parties through a Dismissal for Want of Prosecution (DWOP) if immediate action is not taken.
Divorce case: Dismissal for Want of Prosecution (DWOP)?
You mentioned your spouse has not been cooperative. If you have received a notification that your divorce case may be dismissed for inactivity this is the place to start investigating. There are several reasons a divorce case may be inactive and specific actions a courts will take if steps are not immediately initiated.
For example, if you attempted to serve divorce papers on your spouse but your spouse could never be located, your divorce may have stalled. Additionally, if your spouse failed to attend necessary court dates, did not respond to the papers he was served, missed other filing deadlines, or failed to provide information for Discovery when asked, your divorce case may have stalled.
What can you do? You need to talk to your divorce lawyer and investigate reasons for the potential dismissal. Depending on the reason for the warning there are certain steps you can take. For example, if papers were served on your spouse but he did not respond, you have the legal right to request a default judgment from the court. If he will not provide information to the court when requested, you can file a motion to compel discovery.
The good news is that you have legal actions you can take to solve your problem. You can stop the court from dismissing the case.
Other reasons a divorce case can be dismissed
Now, you did not specifically ask this question, but it’s important to address. There are a number of other reasons your case could be dismissed.
For example, dismissals can also occur if you and your spouse request a dismissal because you would like to attempt reconciliation, you need to request an annulment instead of a divorce, the court involuntarily dismisses the case for technical reasons, or you and your spouse decide to voluntarily request a dismissal prior to the final judgment for any reason (i.e. you decide not to file for divorce until your children have left the house).
Divorce is a legal procedure. There are specific processes and procedures which must be followed to complete the divorce. Failure to follow these procedures can result in a dismissal.