The past few days on our blog here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we have posted blogs regarding what to do when you are served with divorce or child custody papers from either your spouse or your child’s other parent. It can be overwhelming to be caught off guard and handed paperwork saying your spouse is divorcing you or your child’s other parent is trying to change the amount of child support that you pay. These can be nerve wracking situations that can leave you not thinking clearly.
Fortunately you have resources available to you that can be extremely helpful when it comes to learning how to best respond to these type of events in your life. It’s our hope and intention that today’s blog post in addition to the past few day’s posts will be helpful to the extent that you can know how to proceed in a situation like this. Today’s blog will pick up in the middle of the life of a typical family law case by answering the question- what is a counterpetition?
Counterpetitions- the Respondent strikes back
As the respondent in a family law case you were the party who was initially caught off guard (to some extent) by being on the receiving end of family law paperwork. The first step in the process then is for you to file an Answer to their Petition. Especially in the case of divorcing spouses you would be well served to file a counterpetition as well.
In filing a counterpetition you are suing your spouse for divorce just as she has already done to you. There is no requirement for you to file a counterpetition although it is recommended, in my opinion. When you were served with those divorce papers your spouse was asking the Court to grant her a divorce from you based on information that they were alleging to the judge. This is the court’s first impression of your case and was based solely on your spouse’s perspective and version of the facts and circumstances of your marriage.
You are inevitably on the defensive from that point forward in that you are now having to respond to those allegation. A general denial is what an Answer ultimately amounts to. Your spouse has alleged issues that require the court to grant her relief of various sorts. If you do not file a counterpetition any relief that you are awarded is only a byproduct of that relief not being granted to your spouse. If you have any independent claims in addition to the ones made by your spouse you will not be able to pursue those should your divorce be dismissed for any reason. Even if you allege claims in your Answer your case cannot stand just based on your Answer. The reason being is that your Answer only exists as long as your spouse’s Petition exists.
When a counterpetition is filed you are now able to state your own reasons for divorce, request specific types of relief from the court and make your own allegations against your spouse just as she has done to you. In the future if your spouse wants to drop the divorce lawsuit and attempt to reconcile with you, she could only do that in the event that you agree to drop (or nonsuit) your counterpetition. Basically if you want to fully protect your rights you can only do so by filing a counterpetition.
When do you need an attorney in your divorce case?
This is an age old question that is asked by potential clients of our office all the time. There is the old saying that goes like this: A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Obviously if you choose to represent yourself you are entering into an arena in which you have no experience (unless you are an attorney). Like anything else in life there are a number of intricacies and issues involved in a divorce that requires a specialized touch and knowledge that is difficult to obtain solely from reading online articles about divorce. You are likely equipped from an intelligence standpoint to get a divorce but there are time commitments, specific court requirements and other issues that will pop up in your divorce that require an experienced attorney’s help. Attorneys who do not practice in family law often assume that they can enter into a divorce case and handle it without any problem.
My recommendation is that if you feel like you would be well served to hire an attorney for your divorce then you should do so. The reason is that I would hate for you to finish your case with regret- looking back at all the things that either happened or did not happen that ended up harming you. Had you listened to your instincts and hired an attorney the outcome of your case may have been much different.
With that said, what situations should lead you to hire an attorney for your divorce? You may be on the fence as to whether or not you need to hire an attorney at all. Here are some situations that should lead you to pursuing representation:
-If your spouse has hired an attorney
-If you have a great deal of property at stake. Real property, personal property, etc. If you have a lot of money tied up in your divorce that you cannot afford to lose then you ought to consider hiring a lawyer
-If you have children involved in your case. If you are a parent I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to hire an attorney. There is way too much at stake when kids are involved for you to not have a lawyer. The time you spend with your kids, where your kids live, where they go to school, the doctors they visit, their physical and emotional well being overall are all impacted by a divorce. For you to have a complete say in that outcome you need to have a lawyer’s assistance
-If you have any doubts about your ability to pursue your own claims and defend against claims of your spouse. This is a big one. There is really no way for you to know every aspect of your case without being a family law attorney. It takes years to learn the practice of law and even then everyone is constantly learning in this profession. It would be unrealistic to expect you to be able to jump in and adequately represent yourself. Hiring an attorney is a short-term investment that can and will have long-term implications for your life and that of your children
Questions about divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Thank you for spending time with us the past few days while we discuss issues related to divorce in Texas. If you have any questions about the material that we have covered or are wanting clarification on anything please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our SpringDivorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.