Divorce Dismissal Facts in Florida

By Wayne Thomas

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Obtaining a divorce means severing a legal relationship. As such, rigid legal rules and procedures come into play. In Florida, if one spouse fails to observe the filing requirements, the court may dismiss the action. Cases may also get dismissed by voluntary agreement if a couple decides to stay married. Paying close attention to the Florida court rules from the outset will help you avoid having to file for divorce twice.

Florida Dismissal Grounds

A divorce action filed in Florida may be dismissed at any point prior to the judge issuing a final divorce decree. By law, a dismissal may be warranted for failure to follow proper court procedures or voluntarily through agreement of the parties. An example of failing to follow procedure would be defects in the paperwork, such as not specifying the ground for divorce. Another reason might be that the documents were filed properly but not served on the other party according to the law. Finally, failure to pay the appropriate filing fee would lead to dismissal.

Voluntary Dismissal

A couple that has resolved their marital differences may choose to voluntarily dimiss a pending divorce action and stay married. In this instance, they would file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with the court where the case was filed. If the petition for divorce has been the only document filed, the notice need only be signed by the person who filed. If the other spouse has filed a counterpetition for divorce, both parties need to sign the notice.

Jurisdictional Defects

When a couple has lived in multiple counties or states, filing a divorce action with the wrong court can lead to dismissal. For example, if one party does not meet the Florida residency requirement at the time of filing, the other party could file a motion requesting that the court dismiss the action due to a lack of jurisdiction. Similarly, parties can only get divorced once. If a court receives notice that another divorce action is pending in a different court, the second court may dismiss its case if it finds that the first court has jurisdiction.

Effect of Inaction

In Florida, parties to a divorce must take efforts to move the case along. If neither party takes action for one year, such as filing pleadings or requesting a hearing, the court or either party can seek dismissal of the action for "failure to prosecute." The court is required to provide notice to the parties, and the judge may decide not to dismiss the action if one party can show good cause for his inaction.