Courts do not like to maintain inactive files. For this reason, cases can be dismissed for delay in prosecution if they are not brought to trial or judgment within five years of when they were filed. Code of Civil Procedure Section 583.310. However, this rule does not apply to Family Law petitions that (1) result in pre-trial custody or support orders; or (2) a termination of marital status judgment with reserved issues. Code of Civil Procedure Section 583.161.
If the reason for not dismissing the case is a custody or child support order, the dismissal can be granted 6 months after the youngest child turns 18. Code of Civil Procedure Section 583.350.
If one has a pending Family Law petition, and the above stated exceptions do not apply, then the case should be completed so as to avoid a court dismissal. If a Family Law petition is dismissed, the rights pertaining to temporary orders will be lost and refiling will require an additional fee.