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A Divorce Glossary of Legal Terms
by: Nathan Dawson

Divorce lawyers and law firms can provide a great deal of divorce information and divorce advice; but sometimes, all that legal jargon can be confusing to say the least, not to mention intimidating. Getting a good, low cost divorce settlement requires planning and research.

So, why not start here? We have provided you with a good glossary of legal terms related to the process of getting a divorce:

Alimony - A regular support payment by one divorced spouse to the other.

Annulment - A court declaration stating that a legal marriage never existed.

Arbitration - Having a disputed matter settled by a third party who is not a judge.

Attachment - A court-ordered seizure of a debtor's property.

Attorney at Law - A state-licensed advocate who is hired to prepare, manage and try a case in court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution - A process of negotiation, mediation and arbitration, in lieu of a trial, as a way to resolve issues pertaining to a judgment of divorce.

Case Information Statement (CIS) - A financial document specifying the details of your respective incomes, expenses, assets, and debts.

Child Support - Money paid by one ex-spouse to another toward their child's expenses.

Common Law Marriage - A marriage without a license or ceremony in which the couple cohabitated for a minimum number of years (varies from state to state).

Default - Failure to do something (such as make a payment) on time.

Discovery - The legal procedures used to gather all the facts necessary to settle a case or to prepare the case for trial.

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) - The legal separation of a married couple so that each one may be free to marry again.

Equitable Distribution - A fair division of the assets acquired during your marriage.

Inventory and Appraisement - A list of jointly-owned property along with the current value of each one.

Joint Legal Custody - An agreement in which a divorced couple share the rights and responsibilities of making major decisions about their child's life.

Joint Physical Custody - The shared right to have a child live with one or the other parent at different times of the week or year.

Judgement of Divorce - A legal document following a settlement or trial that grants a divorce and states the court's decisions with regard to alimony, support, custody, visitation rights, and equitable distribution.

Maintenance - Alimony or child support payments.

Marital Settlement Agreement - An out-of-court agreement that resolves all issues surrounding a divorce.

Mediation - A process by which a dispute is resolved and an agreement between two parties is reached with the assistance of a disinterested third party known as a mediator.

Non-Marital Property - Property that belongs exclusively to either the husband or the wife and, as such, cannot be divided between the two.

No-Fault Divorce - A divorce granted with the mutual agreement of two spouses, or when one spouse has left the marriage for a certain period of time (varies by state).

Rehabilitative Alimony - Alimony that helps the ex-spouse to become self-reliant.

Separation - The absence of one spouse from the household before a divorce.

Separation Agreement - A temporary agreement with regard to support, child custody and property for the period between the onset of separation and the granting of a divorce.

Spouse - A husband or wife.

Support - Payment due to one spouse from the other regarding housing, food, clothing, and other expenses.

Transfer - To switch legal ownership from one person to another.

Verification Statement - An oath declaring that the information stated in a document is true.

Visitation - The right for a non-custodial parent to visit his or her child.


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