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File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

If you're the defendant in a Probate and Family Court case, you may want to file a counterclaim to request different orders from the court.

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The Details of File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

What you need for File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

A counterclaim is a claim filed by the defendant that opposes the claim filed by the plaintiff. You can file a counterclaim to any complaint filed in the Probate and Family Court except a Complaint for Contempt. If you believe the plaintiff has violated court orders, you can file a Complaint for Contempt.

If you don't want to request any orders or new orders of the court, or if you want to file a different type of case, then you don't need to file a counterclaim.

The defendant usually files a counterclaim at the same time that they file an answer to the complaint, but it can be filed after the answer. If you want to file a counterclaim much later than the answer, you need to file a motion requesting permission from the court to file the counterclaim late. Otherwise, what you're requesting won’t be considered by the judge.

Make sure you complete the correct counterclaim form for the complaint. For example, if the complaint is a Complaint for Divorce, complete the Counterclaim for Divorce. Each counterclaim form looks similar to the corresponding complaint. If a form isn’t available for your action, you can write your own. In a counterclaim, you’re now called the plaintiff-in-counterclaim, and the other party is the defendant-in-counterclaim.

The counterclaim form asks you to provide certain information. The last paragraph of the counterclaim usually begins, “Wherefore plaintiff-in-counterclaim requests that this Court…” This is where you write what you want the court to do.

Write the date, sign your name on the counterclaim, and print your name, address, and telephone number under your signature. Complete the Certificate of Service, which tells the court who you served a copy of your counterclaim to, how you served them, and when you served them (see Serve the Papers below for more information on this process). Sign your name on the Certificate of Service. Remember to write the docket number on the top of each page you submit to court.

Fees for File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

There is no fee to file a counterclaim. 

How to file File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

File the original signed counterclaim in the court that’s hearing your case. Find your Probate and Family Court.

Mail the original signed counterclaim to the the Registry of Probate in the court that’s hearing your case. Find the address of your Probate and Family Court.

Next steps for File a counterclaim in the Probate and Family Court

  1. Serve the papers

    You'll need to give a copy of the counterclaim to the plaintiff.

    • If the plaintiff isn't represented by a lawyer — Mail or hand-deliver your counterclaim to the plaintiff.
    • If the plaintiff has a lawyer — Mail or hand-deliver the counterclaim to the lawyer.  

    The plaintiff or lawyer’s address is written on the complaint. If the plaintiff’s address is impounded, you can contact the Registry of Probate for instructions on how to serve the plaintiff.

    If the plaintiff has a current 209A order (abuse prevention order) against you, you're allowed to send the counterclaim by mail or have it served by a sheriff or another authorized officer. You may not hand-deliver it yourself. For more information, see the 209A order you received.

  2. Go to court

    Whether or not you file a counterclaim, it's very important that you go to court every time there's a hearing. If you don't show up to a hearing, you may lose important rights regarding children and property. Always arrive at scheduled court dates on time with copies of all the court documents and other related information.

     

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