A divorce is the legal proceeding whereby a married couple legally separate and end the marriage. One of the parties must file a petition or complaint asking for the divorce. Normally, the divorce proceeding will terminate with a judgment of divorce or decree of divorce that legally terminates the marriage. Sometimes, however, a divorce petition or complaint ends with the petition or complaint being dismissed by the court either on the court's own motion or by the request of one or both of the parties to the divorce.
Petitioner or Joint Request
If the petitioner -- the person who initiated the divorce -- has a change of heart she may file a motion to dismiss the petition or complaint. If the petitioner files the motion alone, the respondent -- the other spouse -- can object and the court will deny the motion to dismiss. If the parties file a joint motion to dismiss, the court will usually grant the motion, as both parties are in agreement.
Failure to Prosecute
If a petition or complaint for divorce is filed but no further action is taken in the case, the court will eventually file a motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute or want of prosecution. This means that the complaining party has failed to pursue the case. The court will generally allow the parties a certain amount of time to take action in the case, after which the case will be dismissed if nothing is filed to move the case along.
In some cases, a technicality will require the court to dismiss a divorce case. For instance, if the case was filed in the wrong county and the court does not have jurisdiction, the court will dismiss the case on its own motion. Also, if the plaintiff has failed to provide proof of service of process on the defendant, the court will dismiss the case.