Pleadings (civil):

     This page is continued from Every Type of Pleadings:


     Rule 7(a) within the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifies that:

Only these pleadings are allowed:

(1) a complaint;

(2) an answer to a complaint;

(3) an answer to a counterclaim designated as a counterclaim;

(4) an answer to a crossclaim;

(5) a third-party complaint;

(6) an answer to a third-party complaint; and

(7) if the court orders one, a reply to an answer.

Types of Initial Pleadings:

    The plaintiff‘s initial pleading is usually a complaint, but a petition could be filed instead (Fed. Rules. Civ. Proc. Rule 3).

civil complaint – the initial pleading that commences a civil action, stating the basis for the court’s jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff’s claim, and the specified demand(s) for relief.

petition – a formal written request presented to a court or other official body.

Secondary Pleadings filed in response to the Initial Pleadings:

answer – defendant’s first pleading, either to deny the allegations of the complaint, demur to them, agree with them, or introduce affirmative defenses intended to defeat or delay the lawsuit.

Contents within the answer may include:

  • counterclaim – a cause of action within answer (see page 5 of form) which may have been used to sue the plaintiff in a separate action; used in opposition to or as a setoff against the plaintiff ’s claim.
  • objection in point of law – a defensive pleading by which the defendant admits the facts alleged by the plaintiff but objects that they do not make out a legal claim.

Complaint for Modification – a post-final-decree motion asking the court to change one of its earlier orders.


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Back to Essential Terminology

Intro to U.S. Law

Legal Precepts Adopted (from Europe) into The U.S. Constitution

§ § of Law Embedded into the Constitution Pursuant to the American Revolution

Indian Country Law

Federal Rules of Procedure

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