Family Law: 3 Steps to Follow in Responding to Custody and Paternity Papers

Deciding to part ways with a spouse is never easy, especially when children are involved. In some cases, your partner might take this opportunity to severe the connection between you and your children. This is why is advisable to act as soon as you get summon and complaints papers from them. Usually, there is a time limit within which you have to respond to the complaint, and failure to do so could lead to the case being ruled in favour of the complainant. However, if you do not agree with everything the complainant is demanding, do it in writing and oppose the motion in time to avoid losing custody. Here is the process to follow:

Studying the Papers 

The papers served detail what your partner is demanding and not the final orders of the judge. Take time and read it to understand. It is advisable to have a family lawyer to help you interpret what every demand means before deciding on a course of action. If you are okay with everything they are asking for, there is no need to file anything. On the other hand, it is a requirement to file a response when you do not agree with any of the demands made by the other parent.

Making a Response to the Claim

The second step applies when you disagree with the conditions that your partner demanded. Here, you have to get the assistance of a family lawyer in drafting your response. If you cannot meet the deadline and you need more than three weeks to make a counter-claim, start by requesting an extension of the time to answer. The lawyer will assist you in filling and submitting the form. If the three weeks lapsed before you made a response to the claim and the court judge already set a default ruling in your spouse's favour, your lawyer will assist you in filing a request for the default ruling to be set aside and hearing your case before giving the final orders.

Filing Your Response and the Counter-Claim

The counter-claim is your opportunity to express what you feel about the conditions set in the other claim. You need to respond to the specific complaint that was made. If your spouse filed for full custody, your counterclaim will be for custody, and if the complaint was for paternity, your counterclaim will be for the same.

Other documents that might be required include financial disclosure forms and injunction requests. After filing the papers, your family lawyer will serve the plaintiff, and the judge will proceed with the case after looking at both the claim and counterclaim.