When you are served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Petition should come with a Summons indicating you must appear in the case and write a written response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. However, did you also know that you have a right to file your own Petition for Dissolution of Marriage against your spouse even though you’ve already been served with your spouse’s Petition for Dissolution of Marriage? In other words, you have a right to sue your spouse back even though they have already sued you first. When a party files their own Petition for Dissolution of Marriage after they have already been served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage from their spouse, the second Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is called a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

A Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is a legal complaint just like any other Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. As a result, you will incur an additional filing fee if you file a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage basically indicates that the person who was originally served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage also wants the divorce. In fact, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will look very similar, and may even allege the same facts or request the same outcome of the case on division of property, parenting time, and other issues. If that is the case, then why would a responding party pay extra money to file a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that says the same thing as their spouse’s Petition for Dissolution of Marriage? The answer is: filing a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage protects you from having your case dismissed even when you still want to get a divorce.
When a party files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, they are asking the court to open their case and grant their divorce. However, the party who files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has the right to withdraw or dismiss their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage at any time for any reason. This is called “voluntary dismissal.” If your spouse’s Petition is the only Petition before the Court and they choose to voluntarily dismiss their Petition, then the entire case would be dismissed along with their Petition even if you still want the divorce. However, if you had filed a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Court could still move forward on your Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage even if your spouse decides to dismiss their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. As a result, as long as you file a Counter-Petition, your case will not be dismissed even if your spouse decides he or she wants to dismiss your case.

If you have been served with a divorce and would like to ensure you file a Counter-Petition, feel free to contact our office for your free initial consultation today at www.wardfamilylawchicago.com.