If you filed for divorce in Texas and there hasn’t been much activity on the case in recent months, you might get an order of dismissal for want of prosecution. This order is simply the court letting you know that the case could be dismissed because it hasn’t been progressing.
You will have a chance to prove otherwise, so just receiving an order of dismissal for want of prosecution doesn’t necessarily mean your case will be dismissed. Here’s what you need to know before you respond to the notice.
What Is Dismissal for Want of Prosecution in Texas Divorce Cases?
If your Texas divorce case was recently dismissed for want of prosecution, you might be confused about what this means and how you should respond. What does it mean when a divorce is dismissed?
Simply put, dismissal for want of prosecution in a Texas divorce means the court noticed there had not been any activity on the case. Issuing a dismissal for want of prosecution, or DWOP, is the court’s way of trying to clear out old cases that have been idle for months.
If the court observes that your divorce case has not had any recent activity, you’ll get an intent for dismissal, which is a warning that your case may be closed. If you don’t respond to it by the court’s deadline—which is usually about 30 days—your case will be dismissed.
What Does It Mean When a Divorce Is Dismissed?
When you end up with a dismissal for want of prosecution in Texas, your divorce case is closed. This means you are still legally married. If you and your spouse have decided not to divorce after all, then you don’t need to do anything after you get the order of dismissal for want of prosecution.
If you and your spouse have moved on, and you do not want to be legally married anymore, you need to file a motion to vacate dismissal for want of prosecution, so you can continue with the divorce case. You may want the help of a divorce attorney in Houston for this step.
Can a Dismissed Divorce Case Be Reopened?
Can a dismissed divorce case be reopened? The answer is yes. You must show the court that you’re motivated to continue with the divorce, which you can do by hiring a divorce lawyer and contacting the court.
If you respond to the dismissal for want of prosecution in divorce within one month, you should be able to keep it open. If you don’t respond within 30 days and the case is closed, you will need to refile the case, which means paying additional fees to file for divorce in Texas.
Motion to Vacate Dismissal for Want of Prosecution
If you want to continue with the divorce, you can file a motion to vacate the order of dismissal and to reinstate the case. You will need to find out why the court wanted to dismiss the case.
The court will likely schedule a hearing so you can provide proof that there has been activity on the case in recent months, meaning it should not be dismissed for inactivity. Your lawyer will help you with these steps so that you know how best to respond to the DWOP.
Reasons for Dismissal for Want of Prosecution in Divorce
There are a few common reasons for a dismissal for want of prosecution in divorce. One is that you didn’t serve your spouse with divorce papers. Another is that you did serve your spouse, but he or she didn’t file a Texas Response to Divorce Petition, and you never followed up with a default judgment. Also, if you or your spouse missed any hearings or deadlines, you might get a DWOP.
Essentially, if the court notes that you and your spouse don’t have any sense of urgency with the divorce, the case might be dismissed for want of prosecution.
Can I Sue if My Case Is Dismissed?
It’s much easier to simply respond to the court within a month so you can reinstate the case.
Divorce can be a complex subject. If you have any questions about your case having been dismissed for want of prosecution in Texas, child support, child custody or any related issues, the Houston divorce attorneys at The Moffett Law Firm can help. Contact us today for representation!