Case dismissed: what does it mean and why did it happen?

Case Dismissed: What does it mean and why did it happen?
By M. J. Goodwin

In its most basic sense, a case is dismissed when a Court denies, in a final order, relief being requested by a moving party. Whether or not a dismissal is a “good” thing depends on which side of the case one is on. For example, if a litigant seeks to have his court ordered child support reduced, and the Court dismisses the case, the effect of that dismissal is that the previously ordered child support remains in effect. So that is a “win” for the person who receives the child support. Because people often misunderstand what a dismissal means, this can cause confusion and lack of understanding of the Court’s ruling.

Another type of dismissal is an administrative dismissal, which occurs in Family Court if a matter is not finalized within 365 days of being filed. Again, if a litigant does not want the relief being requested by the plaintiff to be ordered, waiting and doing nothing can result in an administrative dismissal following the expiration of 365 days. These dismissals often occur with self represented litigants, as they do not know the rules and are unable to move the case toward finality. Administrative dismissals should not occur when experienced lawyers are involved, unless of course that is the strategy of the lawyer involved.

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