If you have received a divorce petition from your spouse, you must provide your response in a specific manner. It is not compulsory to file a counterclaim. However, this law differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some states all you need to do is to file an answer, to inform the court that you want to take an active part in the divorce process. But if you want to file a counterclaim, it prevents your spouse from canceling the divorce if he/she changes his/her mind.
Follow these 10 tips to draft your divorce counterclaim:
1. Enumerate all your assets
Your counterclaim needs to specify all your assets. This includes all your real estate, bank accounts, stocks, boats, vehicles, and/or businesses you and/or your spouse own(s) to help the judge get a good grasp of your marital estate. If you fail to include any property in your counterclaim, it will make it more difficult to adequately split that property during trial. If a judge discovers that a spouse intentionally hid assets to avoid including them in the divorce case, the court may fine that spouse or award that hidden asset or its value to the other spouse.
2. Tackle child custody issues
A number of states have use-it or lose-it terms. This means that if you refuse put your custody request in your counterclaim, it is assumed that you consented to your spouse’s claim. Specify how you would want the court to assign physical and legal custody and if you want shared or exclusive custody.
3. State your proposal for child support
Some states need you to request for child support in the initial divorce petition or counterclaim. The last child support award may not tarry with what your original request is.
4. Request for spousal support or alimony, if suitable
In certain states, a spouse applying for alimony must state the request in the initial divorce petition or counterclaim. If you fail to incorporate your request for alimony in the counterclaim, you may not be able to request for spousal support trial.
5. Supply your evidence if you’re Filing for a fault-based divorce
A good reason to file a counterclaim is to request a fault-based divorce. If you don’t claim fault in a divorce petition or counterclaim, you can’t apply for it afterwards without restructuring your counterclaim.
6. Be honest
It’s essential to be frank about issues concerning your past or that of your spouse. You must avoid the temptation of elongating the truth or giving false evidences. If you falsify any fact about your spouse in your counterclaim, it will make you less credible.
7. Ensure you leave no stone unturned
Try not to forget anything and endeavor you include in your counterclaim all you want to achieve through the divorce.
8. Be plain and unambiguous
Try to be plain and brief in your requests.
9. Seek the help of an attorney
Get an attorney to help you with any process, if you are not sure how to navigate through all this properly. For instance, you may need to get an attorney to help you if your assets and that of your spouse are are complicated
10. Once you have followed all due process, stay calm and positive
After you have done all that is required by following all these steps, stay calm and relax, your counterclaim is only the first step of your divorce process.