Can divorce proceedings be started and then finished years later?

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Can divorce proceedings be started and then finished years later?

My friend filed for divorce 3 years ago but never followed up to finish the process. A few weeks ago she received a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage from her husband. Is this a valid response that she can proceed with? Or is it necessary to start over since so much time has passed?

Asked on July 30, 2011 California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Well, she needs to find out whether her case was dismissed for failure to follow up or appear or if it was dismissed for failure to properly notice (if this is the issue) or if the divorce was granted by default of the respondent. She can go to the county court house with the case number (or just her name) and find the public record information. If her divorce had been granted, theoretically she would have received something but oftentimes it is usually dismissed for failure to appear. Just look and see what you can find and if it had been dismissed, then you need to refile.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In many cases a spouse files a petition for dissolution of the marriage and for various reasons there is a delay in having it served upon the other spouse or a delay by the other spouse in answering the petition.

Sometimes the spouse who filed the petition realizes that the filing was hasty, the parties try to work things out, or there are other reasons for a delay in the petition's answer.

Dissolution proceedings can take years to conclude. Sometimes the spouses want to fight over assets, support issues and child custody issues vigorously and when this happens, it takes time to conclude the dissolution although in most states a marriage can be declares dissolved usually within 6 months after the petition is answered.

The response received from your friend's husband most likely is valid unless a default has been entered against him that she can proceed forward with the dissolution proceedings.


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