Divorce & Attempted Reconciliation: How Long Can A Case Be On Pause?

My previous blog discussed steps that attorneys make take to put a divorce case on pause when the parties wish to attempt reconciliation.  To read my previous blog first, click here.  In this blog, we’ll answer the question of how long a case can be on pause.

Here’s the answer — there is no absolute time after which a Court must dismiss a case for “want of prosecution” (i.e. dismiss a case based on a prolonged period of inactivity).   As a general rule, a case that demonstrates no activity in roughly a year’s time becomes a prime candidates for placement on the “dismissal docket.”

Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 165a give the Court authority to place cases on the dismissal docket for want of prosecution.  The rule requires that notice of placement on the dismissal docket and the time and place for the dismissal hearing must be given to each attorney and party whose address is in the Court’s records.  If no appearance is made at the hearing, the case will be dismissed.  If an appearance is made and a valid reason is presented for retaining the case, then the Court will enter an order setting deadlines by which all case activity must be completed (e.g. finishing discovery; filing of additional pleading; and scheduling of final trial).

When a case is dismissed, it’s flushed from the Court’s system.  The case doesn’t exist anymore.  If the parties later decided to proceed with the divorce, they’d have to start all over again, unless a Motion for Reinstatement is filed within 30 days of dismissal (and successfully argued).  If retained on the docket, the parties and attorneys need to get moving and meet the deadlines set by the Court for finishing the case.

In my next blog, we’ll look at the steps the parties can take if they decide to dismiss the case by their own initiative.

Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm, PLLC.  The firm provides a spectrum of family law-related services to clients in the greater San Antonio region, across the United States and throughout the world.  The firms also provides Wills and Estates and Probate services.