If you have been served with a petition for dissolution of marriage in Florida, you only have 20 days to respond to the court with your own filing. There are several types of responses you can file. First, you can file an answer which admits everything that your spouse claimed in their petition and waives your right to respond. In that case, the court will likely give your spouse everything that is requested with regard to division of your property, spousal support (which can last for many years), child support amounts, and division of parental responsibility for your children and any time-sharing schedule for the children. This is only recommended if you and your spouse had already reached an agreement on all of these issues with counsel from experienced family law attorneys. Second, you can file an answer which admits to some of the statements made in the petition while denying others. Finally, you can file an answer and counter petition, which is the recommended course of action if you and your spouse are not in agreement on all matters as stated in the petition.
What a Counter Petition Involves
In your counter petition, you will also need to respond to your spouse’s petition by admitting to any statements made in the petition that are true while denying any other allegations that are untrue, and noting any allegations that you are not sure of the truth or falsity.
Then, you will want to make your own claims as to what you are seeking in your Florida divorce order, with regards to the same issues as raised in the petition
- Division of marital property
- Spousal support (including temporary and permanent support as well as duration and amount)
- Who should have parental responsibility (one spouse or both)
- Time-sharing plans (the schedule by which minor children will live with each parent)
- Child support
For example, your spouse might have requested no spousal support from you in the petition, but, if you want spousal support, you will have to raise that in the counter petition. Likewise, your spouse may have requested $3000 a month in spousal support on a permanent basis, but you might request in your counter petition that you only be ordered to pay $500 a month for two years.
Because the financial and interpersonal stakes are extremely high in resolving all of these matters – and you only have 20 days from service of the petition to fully research the issues, collect evidence, and respond with your own filing – it is highly recommended you work with a Florida family law attorney as soon as you receive a petition for dissolution of marriage in order to present your best arguments in your counter petition.
Legal Help in Your Florida Divorce Matter
No matter where you are in the process of divorce, The Law Offices of Ira M. Marcus, P.A. in Miami can help. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with a trusted and caring family law attorney.