When to file a strategic counter-petition for divorce?
Normally, to start a divorce, one spouse would file a “Petition for Divorce” and serve it upon the other. When that happens, the responding spouse would typically file what is known as an “Answer” to that petition. In this answer, one would generally deny the allegations of the petition as a purely defensive measure.
However, sometimes it is beneficial for the responding spouse to go on the offensive by filing a “Counter-Petition for Divorce”. This counter-petition is often combined with the “Answer” and titled “Answer & Counter-Petition for Divorce”. It is basically a way of preserving your right to go forward with a divorce even if the spouse who filed the original petition later decides he or she no longer wants the divorce. In other words, if that spouse withdraws the original petition, your filed counter-petition can still serve as a legal basis for the court to go forward with the divorce.
Another important reason for filing a counter-petition is if, in addition to simply dissolving the marriage, you are also seeking affirmative relief such as alimony or property division. Filing such a counter-petition is especially important if the relief you are seeking is different than what is stated in the original petition or is entirely omitted from that petition. Identifying those claims in your “Answer” will not preserve them if your spouse withdraws the original petition. Thus, under these circumstances it is best to include a counter-petition so that you may (i) make your own factual allegations, (ii) state your own reasons for divorce, and (iii) request your preferred relief from the court.
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DISCLAIMER: This blog content is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Do not act or fail to act based on this information alone. For actual legal advice, please speak to a lawyer in your jurisdiction about your specific fact situation.
Blog authored by:
Mr. Amin graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1994. He has over twenty years of civil litigation, trial, and appellate law experience. This experience includes having tried over fifty civil jury trials as first-chair and the filing of appeals with both the Supreme Court of Texas and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Amin also has several years of work experience handling a variety of personal, business, and transactional law matters. Prior to law school, Mr. Amin was a certified public accountant and earned his Bachelor of Science with high distinction from Indiana University’s School of Business.