terminating family law case

When someone is in a situation where they need to hire a family law attorney, it is usually tied to very emotionally difficult event.  As such, people are often torn about whether or not they want to go through with certain actions such as divorce or child custody.   People go back and forth about it all the time. Sometimes an action is started, and the person who started that action changes their mind. 

In this blog, we will talk about changing your mind and not moving forward with a family law action. During our initial consultations, we often sense that some of our clients might end up having second thoughts, so we thought this would be a good topic to cover.  Just like all of our blogs, however, this is meant to provide information only, and is not intended to substitute the advice and legal counsel of a family law attorney.

Who can back out of the family law action?

The person who starts the family law action is the person who can decide not to move forward anymore.  The person who starts a civil action (which is what family law is), is the plaintiff, and the plaintiff can change their mind about moving forward before the conclusion of the case.  The opposing party is the defendant, and that person, on their own, cannot decide not to move forward with the case.  

Voluntary dismissals in terminating family law cases

The process by which a case is stopped by the plaintiff is the filing of a voluntary dismissal.  This gives the court and the opposing party notice that you do not wish to continue with the action.  This occurs when parties reconcile in the middle of a case or when parties rethink how they want to handle this important life situation.

  • Depending on the action, the type of dismissal filed, and the circumstances, the party can dismiss the case and still have the ability to reopen it at a later time, or they can bar themselves from ever reopening the case.

Is it ever too late to change my mind?

Yes. Once a case has been litigated and decided, the parties typically have to live with whatever the judge has ordered.  For example, a party cannot dismiss their case after a child custody trial simple because they didn’t like the outcome and they would prefer to go back to the way things were.  This why it is always important to consider coming to an agreement before trial, via a consent order. Terminating a family law action is not possible after a judgement has been entered.

Instead of terminating my case, what if I just want to change lawyers?

If you want to continue with your case but you simply want to change family law attorneys, that is an option that you almost always have.  Simply speak to your lawyer about it and your lawyer will get you up to date as to what stage your case is in, and you can bring that information to someone else, or you can decide to finish the case on your own.  If your case has a pending trial date, you may have to sign a consent for your attorney to withdraw or otherwise give the court and the opposing party notice of your intent to change representation.

If you are in need a family law attorney in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, contact us.