Court Dismissal of a Divorce Proceeding

  • Sep 4 2018

Q: Can the judge dismiss my divorce for delay or inaction?

If you are considering getting divorced in Massachusetts, there are many issues to work out with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Generally, it’s best for all concerned if a couple can agree on the terms of their divorce on their own or with the help of a skilled family law attorney adept at negotiation.

Some of the issues to consider include whether one spouse will pay the other one alimony or spousal support and, if so, how much and for how long. They must also decide on the division of marital assets.

For couples with children, child custody and support are often the most difficult and emotional arrangements to make. Adjusting to two separate households is often hard on the adults and the children involved. To their credit, many couples commit to making co-parenting after divorce work for the sake of their children. But some couples and children may make the adjustment more easily than others. Living apart may work out so well after the stresses of living together that a couple may appear to “back-burner” the divorce proceeding intentionally or unintentionally as the need to finalize things may not seem as urgent.

While some delays are understandable–even necessary– especially during negotiation of divorce terms, the court may ultimately frown upon extensive blocks of time with no progress or action in the case. It may even, in extreme circumstances, notify the parties or their attorneys that the divorce proceeding will be dismissed if the delays continue. State laws differ in the time frames as to what constitutes an unreasonable delay and how much notice the court must give the parties before dismissing their case.

This issue made the news recently with respect to the long-standing divorce action of celebrity couple, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who separated in 2015 after 10 years of marriage and two daughters and commenced a divorce action in 2016.

A divorce case can be dismissed on motion of the parties or the court in accordance with applicable state rules and is not considered final until a judge signs the divorce decree. Couples concerned about how their legal rights may be affected along the journey from married to divorced, should seek counsel from a skilled Massachusetts family law attorney.

If you need assistance with a Massachusetts divorce, or need help enforcing any provision of a divorce order such as custody or support, Hebert Law Offices can help. It’s all we do. Contact us today to request a consultation.

From our offices in Worcester, we offer clients throughout Massachusetts award-winning legal representation in all aspects of family law.

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