Several specific terms are used throughout the divorce process to define actions, since it’s a legal process. These terms allow legal professionals (and, subsequently, other people) to describe divorce in layman’s terms without the need to go into further detail about the process.
Let’s look at some divorce terminology, as provided by Nolo.com’s page about divorce terminology.
Petition for divorce. This document is what the filing party uses to file a divorce with the court. In some jurisdictions, it’s known as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Temporary order. Also known as an Interim Order, this court order isn’t permanent (as implied by the name). This court order usually lasts until a hearing or a final order is issued; sometimes, it ends when an unspecified event occurs. An example of this type of order is a temporary custody order, which grants one parent custody of the children while the final custody determination remains pending.
Community property. This applies to states who govern community property in this context. Community property is the property (or assets) acquired by both parties during their marriage, which means the property belongs to both. Property owned by either party individually is their separate property, even after they’re married.
Sometimes, separated property can become community property. This usually happens when both parties merge their bank accounts to create a joint bank account upon marriage. The money in their account then becomes community property, since the newly merged account is in both names.
Equitable distribution. Many states require this during marriage, specifically for property or assets. This term generally means that any property or debts will get divided fairly, though not equally. Various factors are used to determine ‘what’s fair’ in this case, including both parties’ earning power and the length of their marriage.
Spousal support. Also known as alimony, this is the compensation given to one spouse from the supporting party. The court usually award alimony to the recipient spouse if they determine that the supporting spouse has a legal obligation to keep supporting their lifestyle. The supporting spouse usually earns enough money to keep providing spousal support for the other party.
Child support. Child support is the compensation paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the purpose of financially supporting their child (or children). If joint custody is in play, the parent with primary physical custody will receive child support from the supporting parent.
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