When a Divorce Proceeding Stalls

Q: Can the court dismiss my divorce case for delay in prosecution?

There’s a lot to consider when getting divorced in Arizona. In addition to deciding how to split up property or whether one spouse will pay alimony/spousal support to the other, divorcing couples with children have to work out multiple other issues.

In addition to child custody and visitation, known as legal decision-making and parenting time in Arizona, child support must be agreed-upon. When the parties cannot agree, the court may decide for them based on what is in the best interest of the children and, absent special circumstances, often favor terms that allow both parents access to and input into decisions affecting the children. Since there is no telling how the judge will rule, it’s generally in the couple’s best interest to come to an agreement whenever possible.

Oftentimes, a couple that is committed to putting their children first and maintaining an amicable co-parenting relationship after their single household is divided into two will take great effort to agree upon the terms of their divorce. Living separately may be working out well and couple’s need for the “official” divorce may no longer seem urgent. Sometimes, this may delay things.

So, what happens when both parties have appeared in a divorce action but proceedings have stalled?

States laws differ. In addition, the length of time and reasons for the delay may impact what if any action the court takes regarding the pending divorce proceeding.

According to some news sources, celebrities Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner may have reportedly been advised that the court may dismiss their pending divorce case –which was commenced in 2016 –for “delay in prosecution” if the couple “fails to take the appropriate steps” in resolving their final divorce settlement.  

A divorce is not finalized until a judge issues and signs an order of divorce decree. If the divorce proceedings are dismissed at the request of the parties and/or by order of the court, the parties remain legally married even if they are living separately. At least until they recommence legal action to divorce.

There are many legal rights and responsibilities afforded to married couples which are impacted by a divorce. It’s important to see a skilled family law attorney to understand how and when these rights and responsibilities may change along the road from marriage through separation and divorce.

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

From our offices in Phoenix, we represent clients throughout Arizona including Mesa, Glendale, Surprise, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Tempe.