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I want to retain or reinstate a case that got dismissed.

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

The court may dismiss your case if it is inactive. This guide explains how to ask the court to keep your case open or reopen it when this happens.
Overview

Guide Overview

If nothing happens in your case for a while, it can be “dismissed for want of prosecution” (called a DWOP).

This guide tells you how to ask the judge to:

  1. Retain: keep your case open, or
  2. Reinstate: reopen your case if it has already been dismissed.

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not legal advice and are not a substitute for the help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation. Use our Legal Help Directory if you need help finding a lawyer.

Research Tips

Start by reading How to Retain or Reinstate a Case Dismissed by the Court. The law about reinstating and retaining cases is here: Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 165(a), and Rule 306(a)(4).

If you still have questions, read Legal Research: Steps to Follow. The state law library of Texas offers Legal Research Resources for Beginners.

Common questions about Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

“Dismissed for want of prosecution” or DWOP means your case is dismissed by the judge because nothing has happened in your case for a while or you missed a hearing or trial (of which you had notice).

Before dismissing a case for want of prosecution, the clerk will send you a letter or email that tells you that your case has been placed on the dismissal docket (list of cases to be dismissed on a certain date).

If a case is “retained” it is kept open. If your case was placed on the dismissal docket (but not yet dismissed), you can ask the judge to keep your case open by filing a Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing. 

If a case is “reinstated” it is reopened after being dismissed. If your case was dismissed for want of prosecution, you can ask the judge to reopen your case by filing a Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing (if you file by the deadline discussed below.)

Getting your case retained or reinstated can preserve:

  • statute of limitations (legal deadlines) that may apply to your case, and
  • orders (such as temporary orders) already made in your case.

If your case is dismissed (and not reinstated), it goes away completely.

You must file your case again, pay the filing fee again and have the other side served again (if needed).

If there was a legal deadline to file your case and it has passed, you may be out of luck. Talk to a lawyer if there was a legal deadline to file your case. 

Click the link below for a program you can use to fill out the forms online. The program contains information to help you fill out the forms at each step.

Guided Forms - Click  HERE

Retaining a Case on the Docket

Reinstating a Case Dismissed by the Court

Instructions & Forms

If a case is “reinstated” it is reopened after being dismissed.

If your case was dismissed for want of prosecution, you can ask the judge to reopen your case by filing a Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing, as long as you file by the deadline

Click on each step below to find instructions and forms for asking the judge to reinstate your case. There are also guided forms for motions to reinstate and retain.

Checklist Steps

Call the clerk’s office. Tell the clerk you want to schedule a hearing on a motion to reinstate case on docket. The clerk will give you a date and time for the hearing.

Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing: Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink and sign it.

Remember to:

  • write the reason the case should be reinstated (remember you must have a good reason),
  • write the date and time of the hearing,
  • write the full physical address of the court where the hearing will be held, and
  • fill out and sign the Certificate of Service.

Order on Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket: Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink (except for the judge’s signature).

Turn in your completed Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing form at the clerk’s office and get a copy for both you and the other side. The clerk will “file-stamp” your forms with the date and time and return the copies to you.

 Send a file-stamped copy of the Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. Send it on the same day you get the hearing date. The other side must receive it at least 3 days before the hearing. If the other side has a lawyer, send it to the lawyer instead of directly to the other side.

Send it:

  • by fax, or
  • by email, or
  • by commercial delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS), or
  • by personal delivery, or
  • by certified mail, return receipt requested and regular mail. (This way may take too long.)

Keep proof that you sent the Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. You must bring proof to your hearing.  

Be ready to explain to the judge why you need the case reinstated on the docket and why it should not have been dismissed. Bring proof that you sent the Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. Bring the Order on Motion to Reinstate Case for the judge to sign.

Forms Required

If a case is “retained” it is kept open. If your case was placed on the dismissal docket (but not yet dismissed), you can ask the judge to keep your case open by filing a Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing. 

Click on each step below to find instructions and forms for asking the judge to retain your case. There are also guided forms for motions to reinstate and retain.

Checklist Steps

Call the clerk’s or court coordinator's office. Tell the clerk you want to schedule a hearing on a motion to retain the case on the docket. The clerk will give you a date and time for the hearing.

Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing: Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink and sign it.

Remember to:

  • write the reason the case should be retained (remember you must have a good reason),
  • write the date and time of the hearing,
  • write the full physical address of the court where the hearing will be held, and
  • fill out and sign the Certificate of Service.

Order on Motion to Retain Case on Docket: Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink (except for the judge’s signature).

Turn in your completed Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing form at the clerk’s office and get a copy for both you and the other side. The clerk will “file-stamp” your forms with the date and time and return the copies to you.

Send a file-stamped copy of the Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. Send it on the same day you get the hearing date. The other side must receive it at least 3 days before the hearing. If the other side has a lawyer, send it to the lawyer instead of directly to the other side.

Send it:

  • by fax, or
  • by email, or
  • by commercial delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS), or
  • by personal delivery, or
  • by certified mail, return receipt requested and regular mail. (This way may take too long.)

Keep proof that you sent the Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. You must bring proof to your hearing.  

Be ready to explain to the judge why you need the case retained on the docket. Bring proof that you sent the Motion to Retain Case on Docket and Notice of Hearing to the other side. Bring the Order on Motion to Retain Case for the judge to sign. Remember, the judge may or may not retain your case.

Forms Required

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