What Is a Counterclaim for Divorce?

By Mary Jane Freeman
You can ask for custody of your children by filing a counterclaim to your spouse's divorce complaint.

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If your spouse filed for divorce, the court expects you to respond. If you don't, not only will your spouse get the divorce he's after, but the court will likely give him everything he asked for in his divorce complaint as well. Responding involves filing an answer telling the court which parts of your spouse's complaint you agree with and which you don't agree with. If you want more from your spouse than just a divorce, such as spousal support or custody, you can ask the court for these things by also filing a counterclaim.

Use Counterclaim to Make Demands

When your spouse filed his complaint or petition for divorce, he provided information about your marriage, such as your marriage date, assets and liabilities, children you may have together and his reason for wanting a divorce. In your answer, you can admit or deny this information. For example, if your spouse cites adultery as his reason for divorcing you, you would use your answer to admit or deny this allegation. If you want to make demands of your own, you can also submit a counterclaim. A counterclaim is typically much the same as a complaint, but it's filed by the responding spouse. Filing it prevents the court from dismissing the divorce case if your spouse changes his mind and withdraws his complaint. You can cite your own reasons or grounds for divorce in your counterclaim, as well as what you'd like the court to order as part of your divorce, such as custody or spousal support.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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