Is there a time limit on how long a party has to ignore a petition of divorce before the court will grant or dismiss it?

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Is there a time limit on how long a party has to ignore a petition of divorce before the court will grant or dismiss it?

A woman filed for divorce 26 years ago and goes on with her life, thinking it has been finalized because she had been living apart from her husband and papers had to be sent to him. Then 12 years ago she remarries. When she tries to get a new SS card with her new husband’s last name, they won’t let her because her ex never showed up in court to finalize their divorce. What is her marriage status at that point? Is there some sort of statute of limitations involved?

Asked on April 13, 2012 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The length of time a case can be ignored will depend on the court.  Some court's have administrators or secretaries that will essentially let the case sit on the docket forever.  Others will dismiss for what is called "want or prosection" after two years of inactivity.  If a divorce case is dismissed, that means the parties divorce was never finalized, and as such, are still married.  The only way to really know the status is to go look at the actual court's file.  If the divorce was not finalized, she'll need to go file one to make any subsequent marriages legit and to avoid a bigamy charge.


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