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Why would a divorce case be dismissed?

As you consider pursuing a divorce case, or if you are in the early stages of one, you likely have many questions. You may have heard family members, friends, or even work colleagues talk about divorce cases being dismissed. One question that may be floating in your head is why would a divorce case be dismissed. In reality, there are a number of reasons why a divorce case might be dismissed.

Motion of a Party or the Parties

A common reason why a divorce case may end up dismissed is if the parties to the case elect to end the proceedings. If a couple desires to attempt a reconciliation, they may mutually decide to end the divorce proceedings.

In this type of situation, one or another of the parties to the case may file a motion to dismiss with the court. In some instances, the spouses may file a joint motion to dismiss.

Improper Jurisdiction

The laws in all states establish certain jurisdictional parameters that must be met in order for divorce proceedings to be held in a particular court. These criteria usually include a minimum time requirement within which the couple must have resided in the state. There also typically is a requirement that at least one of the parties to a divorce case live in the county in which divorce proceedings are brought.

If these jurisdictional issues are not met, the case will be dismissed. Technically speaking, without the jurisdictional criteria being satisfied, a court lacks the lawful authority to issue a divorce decree.

Failure to Prosecute

Another reason why a divorce case can be dismissed is if the parties fail to prosecute the matter. What this essentially means is that a divorce case is filed, but ultimately nothing is done by the parties to pursue it. In the alternative, the parties may initially pursue the case, but then stop for some reason.

The court usually provides notice to the parties advising them of its intent to dismiss the case for failure to prosecute. The parties normally are provided at least some time correct the situation before the court dismisses the case. In some cases, if a case is dismissed in this manner, the parties may be able to have it reinstated. They will have to demonstrate good cause to the court for not diligently pursuing the case in the first instance.

Improper Court Papers

A court case can be dismissed at the outset if the person who initiated divorce proceedings failed to utilize proper pleadings. Pleadings is the legal term for court paperwork.

Improper pleadings can include everything from utilizing incorrect paperwork when the court initially is filed to incorrectly completing that paperwork. The court many times will allow the party that started a divorce case an opportunity to correct the paperwork deficiency. If that is not accomplished in the timeframe established by the court, the case is likely to be dismissed shortly after the expiration of the deadline.

The potential for these mistakes by someone not versed in divorce law underscores the benefits associated with hiring a lawyer. A skilled, experienced divorce attorney understands the paperwork necessary to start a divorce case, and knows how to complete that paperwork in a proper manner. If a mistake is made, an experienced lawyer also understands how to correct it.

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