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The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Counterclaim - a pleading filed by the defendant, who is also called the respondent, against the plaintiff, who is also called the petitioner or the appellant.
Application in Divorce A counterclaim may accompany an answer to a complaint. In a divorce action, a counterclaim alleges the defendant’s (or respondent’s) answer to the plaintiff (or petitioner), as if the defendant were the party asking for the divorce. In some cases, a counterclaim may allege adultery.

Normally, defendants must answer the complaint and file a counterclaim within a period of time, usually less than one month. This amount of time is clearly stated on the summons which is served on the defendant with a copy of the complaint. The plaintiff then may file an answer to the counterclaim. The title of petition is often used in some states rather than complaint.

In uncontested divorces, there is not a counterclaim, but rather some form of acknowledgment by the defendant that he or she agrees with what is presented in the complaint.

Failure to file a counterclaim (response or answer) to a complaint will result in a default judgment or decree.

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