Divorce Glossary

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Knowledge about legal terms pertinent to divorce can be very useful during divorce processes.

Here’s a glossary that contains all important legal divorce terminologies:

Abandonment: Grounds for divorce. When one spouse leaves the other spouse for an extended period without consent, and without justification.

Adultery: Grounds for divorce. Adultery is any sexual act with another person at a time when that person has a living spouse.

Annulment: A declaration by a court that marriage was never legally valid.

Answer: The response to the complaint, in a divorce case.

Child Support: Money paid by one parent to another for a child’s expenses.

Cohabit: To live together in an intimate relationship.

Complaint: The initial paperwork filed in a court case submitted written by the Plaintiff.

Contempt: The willful disregard of a court order or conduct in court that defies the authority or dignity of a court. Punishable by jail time, fines or other adverse action.

Contested Divorce: A divorce action in which the parties oppose each other on any of the issues raised in the complaint.

Custody, Legal: The legal right to make major decisions affecting a child.

Custody, Physical: The actual physical care of a child.

Default Judgment: A divorce judgment that is obtained when the opposing party fails to respond.

Deposition: A person’s out-of-court, sworn testimony that is reduced to writing by a court reporter.

Discovery: The exchange of information by parties in litigation.

Earning Capacity: A person’s ability to earn money in light of skills, training, and experience.

Guardian ad litem: A neutral third party person appointed by the court to help a minor or incompetent person in a lawsuit.

Interrogatory: A written question or a set of questions to be answered by the opposing party as part of discovery.

Irretrievable Breakdown: When a marriage is impossible to repair.

Judgment of Divorce: The final court decision granting a divorce.

Maintenance: Support paid by one spouse to the other. Also known as spousal support or alimony.

Marital Property: Any property, either spouse obtained from the date of marriage to the beginning of the divorce action.

Order: A command or decision issued by the court.

Response: A court document filed with the court to state a party’s answer to allegations or requests made in a Complaint.

Separation: One spouse’s absence from the marital household before divorce.

Settlement Agreement: A formal, voluntary, written agreement on all of the issues surrounding divorce.

Subpoena: A court order requiring a person’s attendance at a particular time and place to testify as a witness or to provide certain documents that are requested.

Uncontested Divorce: A divorce in which there are no disagreements between the couple on any issues related to the divorce.

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