Saturday, February 17, 2007

Defining Some Legal Terms for the Divorce Case

These definitions might differ some from the dictionary but my hope here was to define them so that they are understood in everyday English.

Petitioner: the person who files for divorce first. Being the Petitioner does nothing more for the person filing than having control over whether the divorce becomes final or not and (generally) gives the person the choice of court to file in.

Respondent: the person who is not the Petitioner.

Contested divorce: means that you and your spouse have not agreed completely on dividing property and debts, and, if there are children, decided custody, parenting time, and child support issues. Contested does not mean whether or not you will get divorced.

Uncontested divorce: you and spouse have decided between yourselves all of the issues that are to be decided in your divorce - property, debts, custody, support, parenting time (visitation).

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage: that the marriage cannot be fixed. Part of what the Petitioner has to say to get the divorce finalized - "I agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. So long as the Petitioner says that the marriage is irretrievably broken, there will be a divorce.

Provisional Hearing: the hearing between filing the Petition and the Final Hearing where temporary support, temporary maintenance, temporary custody, temporary child support, and temporary parenting time are set by the court.

Final Hearing: the hearing where the marriage is ended.

Discovery: the process of getting information from the opposing party and others that we need for our case. Discovery is a set of tools including interrogatories (written questions), motions to produce (to get documents), motions to produce directed to third parties (same as a motion to produce but not for you or your spouse), and depositions (appearing before a court reporter and being asked questions under oath).

Temporary maintenance: payment to the spouse for expenses; not child support and not always granted by a court.

Decree of Dissolution of Marriage: the formal name of the court’s Order that dissolves your marriage, divides your property and determines child custody, support and parenting time.

Parenting Time: the technical term now used for visitation.

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