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Responsive Pleadings

Responsive pleadings must be filed after the petition has been filed. The responsive pleading should be in the form of an Answer and Counter Petition. In the response, the spouse can respond to certain assertions in the petition, make counterclaims, and state any affirmative defenses if the divorce is fault-based. The responsive pleading is filed with the court and served upon the spouse usually by sending it to the spouse’s legal counsel. The petition and responsive pleading will now display all of the issues that the court will need to determine.

Timing

The time for responding is limited and the clock starts after the non-filing party has been served with the petition, summons, and any ex parte orders. The time limit is 21 days from being served, which is not a lot of time. However, the court may grant an extended time limit if necessary. If the non-filing party does not have an attorney, it is possible for them to continue pro se, which means they will proceed without legal counsel. Although this is an option, the documents that are served can be so extensive that the spouse will likely hire an attorney to reduce the stress and confusion. Once legal counsel is acquired, the proceedings begin to progress through the court.

Answer

An Answer is a reply to the petition that uses the layout of the petition, tending to each numbered section of the petition with a consistent numbered passage that replies to it. The spouse can do one of three things: concede to the accusations, deny them, or express that they do not know. Once a party admits to an accusation, that issue cannot be challenged later down the road. Because of this, most will deny the accusations at the beginning stages of the divorce.

If the divorce is fault-based, the Answer will probably incorporate defenses. Acquiescence can be used as a defense, while “mutuality of fault” cannot, according to Cohee v. Cohee. If mutuality of fault were allowed, the court would have to decide whose actions were worse. This could be a slippery slope, which is why the court does not allow it. The place to consider fault on behalf of the other party is in the Counter Petition.

Counter Petition

Concerning divorce, counterclaims contained in Counter Petitions for the most part fill non-lawful needs. The main relief that a counterclaim looks for is precisely the same looked for by the petition: dissolving the marriage. Counterclaims might be made to satisfy individual reasons or to contend that the divorce ought to be fault-based for the spouse filing the Counter Petition. As examined above, mutual fault is the most widely recognized counterclaim.

Sometimes parties have additional claims against the opposing party such as battery (physical abuse) or false imprisonment. K.S.A. Section 23-2718, for the most part, does not allow these kinds of counterclaims to be added to the request for divorce. Rather, the party should document a different lawsuit to address that wrong and let the divorce proceeding deal with the issues surrounding the divorce. In any case, if the two spouses concur and the court supports, these counterclaims might be added to the divorce proceeding and heard at the same time. The convenience of this strategy needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis, because a lot of elements are present within a divorce proceeding and the best interest of the client will supersede any method.

Required Parenting Classes

Many courts require that spouses with minor children attend parenting classes if they are seeking a divorce. The parents must complete the classes within a specific period. Johnson County, for example, requires that the parenting classes be done within 90 days of filing the petition for divorce. The classes’ goal is to aid in the divorce process by making sure the parents are prepared for the inevitable troubles that come up during and after a divorce. The classes emphasize three main concerns. First, the legal and monetary issues caused by separation that has the potential to affect the children. Secondly, the classes explore the effect of divorce on the children. Lastly, the classes explore the effect of divorce on parents and approaches to maintain fruitful parenting tactics after divorce.

These classes should not be mistaken as marriage counseling. Although the classes are offered in group settings, parents are not permitted to go to classes at the same time. Rather, each parent should independently go to class. Parents can also go to virtual classes on the web. A second imperative distinction is the objective—adapting to divorce, not avoiding it. The spotlight will constantly be on effectively bringing up children.

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Step 7 – Negotiating A Divorce Settlement

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