Ask a Divorce Lawyer: How do I re-open a case and how long are they valid for?

Question: My wife filed for divorce on Feb. 5, 2009, and I responded on May 7, 2009. The case is still “pending,” so what form should I file to re-open the case since I heard cases are only valid for one year? 

If that’s true, when is the 1-year mark? From the date she filed (Feb. 5) or the date I responded (May 7)? 

And does she have rights to any earnings I made after she filed for divorce?


Answer:  First, I must preface my answer I am not licensed to practice law in Florida and as family law is state specific, it would be in your best interests to contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Florida before taking further action. Cordell & Cordell maintains offices in Florida and there are qualified attorneys who would be happy to discuss the specifics of your case with you.

It is likely your case is still active if you have not received notice of a default action. Oftentimes, if a case is stalled a judge will send notice to the parties informing them they must take action or the case will be dismissed without prejudice. That means the case is closed but either party may bring the same action before the court again if they choose. 

The date the judge would work from would likely be the date of the last filing in the case, assuming no action has been taken since your answer, May 7 in this instance. As for the one year timeline, I do not know the case progression standards in your county, and cannot comment.

It is quite possible the earnings attributed to you after the divorce filing can be considered part of the marital ‘pot’. I would again suggest you contact an attorney licensed in Florida.


Nancy R. Shannon, a Nebraska native, is an Associate Attorney in the Omaha, Nebraska office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed in the state of Nebraska where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Doane College and her Juris Doctor from University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she was a finalist in a Moot court competition and active in Client Counseling activities.

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