What Is a Dismissal Hearing in a Divorce Case?

Maybe you filed for divorce. Maybe your spouse filed. Not much has happened in the legal proceedings. Then, a dismissal hearing notice arrives.

What is a dismissal hearing in a divorce case? What should you do if you receive a dismissal hearing notice in a divorce case? Our Missouri divorce lawyers explain.

What is a dismissal hearing in a divorce case?

A dismissal hearing is a scheduled court hearing to decide whether it is appropriate to dismiss the divorce case. If the case is dismissed, there is no judgment of divorce, and the parties remain married.

Can you file for divorce and not go through with it?

If you choose not to go through with your divorce after you file, you can ask the court to dismiss the petition. When your spouse has counterclaimed asking for a divorce, the court is unlikely to grant the dismissal request unless they agree to it as well. If the court dismisses your divorce petition, you may file for divorce again later.

What should I do if I receive a dismissal hearing in a divorce case?

If you receive a dismissal hearing in a divorce case, what you should do depends on what you want to happen in the case. If you want the court to continue the divorce, you should attend the hearing.

When the other side filed for divorce in the first place, the court may ask why you have not responded to the proceedings. They may ask you to file a response or a counter-complaint to keep the case moving forward.

The court typically obliges when both parties want to dismiss the divorce petition and remain married. On the other hand, the court usually allows it when one of the parties wants to continue the divorce proceeding and will often set the matter for trial. The party desiring the divorce must continue to take steps in the legal process towards finalizing the divorce. They may need to see to it that the other party gets served with court papers. They may ask the parties to take further action to move the case forward.

Can the court stay a divorce proceeding in Missouri?

The court has the option to stay a divorce proceeding in Missouri. Under Missouri law § 452.320.2(2), the court may continue the case for 1-6 months. The stay can allow the parties to evaluate the situation and decide if they should proceed. The court may suggest that the parties get counseling, but the court cannot require it.

Will the court dismiss a divorce case if a party wants to get divorced?

Generally, if one of the spouses wants to get divorced, the courts will order it. A spouse may deny that a marriage is irretrievably broken – but if one of the parties wants to end the marriage, the court will generally move forward. However, that spouse cannot just file the divorce petition and do nothing else. The court may dismiss the case for lack of progress.

The party seeking the divorce must comply with legal procedure requirements. The other spouse has the option to default and avoid participating in the process completely. This is not recommended because a default judgment is likely to be extremely unfavorable to that spouse.

The defendant spouse may file a counterclaim for divorce, contest the issues and exercise their rights under the law. If neither party participates in the case and it is not making progress, the court may schedule the case for dismissal. The parties can also stipulate to dismiss the case. If the case is dismissed and you want to file again later on, you must start completely over, including starting over on any waiting periods that apply.

How can an attorney help with a dismissal notice?

If you receive a notice for a dismissal hearing in a divorce case, our attorneys can help you understand your rights and options. Let us help you evaluate the situation and your personal wishes to determine how you want to respond. A dismissal hearing is one part of a divorce case, and we can help you look at the entire picture and determine what’s best. Contact our Missouri divorce lawyers today to talk about your case.