Today I had a consult with a potential client whose case had been "dismissed for want of prosecution" and they wanted to know what they could do about it. As a Houston Divorce Lawyer, I have noticed that clients and potential clients are not aware of the potential that is out there for their case to get dismissed by the court.
This risk is generally decreased when there is a lot of action in a case, it is still there and should an experienced divorce lawyer can help minimize this risk for their client. In this blog post we will discuss what a DWOP or “Dismissal for Want of Prosecution.”
What is a DWOP?
When a divorce or family law case is filed, the court expects some action be taken on it within a certain period of time.
A “dismissal for want of prosecution” (DWOP) is a remedy for a Court when there is little or no activity on a case. A court wants to keep its calendar as clear as possible by getting rid of any cases that have sat idle for too long. The amount of time involved before a court will DWOP a case varies from court to court.
After a Court decides a particular case has been idle to long it will send out a notice of its intention to DWOP the case and will set a hearing. If that notice is ignored the case will be dismissed.
At the actual DWOP hearing, the parties will need to show up to the court and show that there has been activity in case. This can be done by setting the case for trial. Some courts require that a scheduling order be filled out and submitted to the court.
What are some reasons that might cause a Court to send out a DWOP notice?
There are many different reasons that may cause a Court to send out a notice including:
You never served your spouse with divorce papers or they never filed a waiver of service.
The spouse receiving the papers never filed a response and you never took a default judgment against them.
You, your spouse, the lawyers missed a required hearing
Deadlines for things such as discovery (i.e., questions answered under oath about things such as finances) were missed.
Can I undo a DWOP?
The first thing you need to do is speak to your lawyer to determine why the case was dismissed. If you do not have a lawyer now is the time to hire one.
Courts generally give party’s 30 days to file a Motion to Reinstate. If timely filed, the court will give you a hearing and allow you state your reasons for why the Court should grant your motion. If sufficient reason is given the Court will reinstate the case.
Otherwise the case will need to be refiled. In most circumstances if a case is dismissed it is done “without prejudice.” That means that you can refile the case, although that would require an additional filing fee.
If you have to refile the case this means starting over including having to serve your spouse again. This can be expensive.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.