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Glossary of Terms 

Family Law: Glossary of Terms

Going through a divorce is never easy, but the process can often be further complicated by confusing jargon and legal proceedings. This is why having an experienced family lawyer on your side is always a good idea—even in situations where the divorce is seemingly amicable.

Furthermore, having a basic understanding of some common terms used in divorce law will help prepare you for the road ahead.

Alimony – This refers to payment made from one spouse to another after the divorce so that the other spouse can continue to live the same lifestyle that they did during the marriage. The purpose of alimony payments is to equalize incomes after a legal separation. Not all states provide for an award of alimony. Courts in Indiana and Kentucky may award what they call “maintenance,” which is very similar to alimony.

Annulment – While rare, an annulment can be granted in some circumstances. This essentially means that, from a legal standpoint, the marriage never took place.

Burden of Proof – When someone makes a claim against another party or entity, they are expected to provide evidence to back up their claim. That responsibility is referred to as the burden of proof.

Child Support – This is a monetary amount that is paid from one spouse to the other after a divorce, with the funds being intended to cover expenses related to raising a child or children. This amount is determined by the courts based on a number of factors, ranging from income to custody arrangements.

Custody – When shared children are involved in a divorce, a custody arrangement will need to be reached as part of the legal process. The purpose of a custody arrangement is to determine which parent will have primary custody of the children and how often the other parent will see the child or children. In some states, a shared parenting arrangement is becoming more common, where parents share custody equally after a divorce.

Deposition – A testimony that is given out of court under oath, usually by a witness to particular events. For example, if one spouse alleges that the other spouse was abusive in any way, an outside witness may be brought in to give a deposition. This will take place before any official trial.

Dissolution – From a legal standpoint, a dissolution is the official termination of the marriage itself.

Marital Property – Marital property refers to property or assets that were acquired by a couple during their marriage. This could include anything from a house to vehicles and other smaller assets. Property is usually considered marital even if the property is not titled in both names, though there are some exceptions to this.

Motion – The term used to describe a formal proposal of an action in court.

Non-Custodial Parent – The parent who does not have primary physical custody of a child.

Provisional Order – Reaching a final custody arrangement can take time, so in the meantime, a provisional order may be put into place by the courts. The purpose of a PDL is essentially to put a temporary custody arrangement in place (as well as child support, in some cases) until a more permanent solution is reached.

Prenuptial Agreement – A contract entered into before marriage that establishes the responsibilities and rights of each spouse and predetermines the terms of a divorce if one should occur.

Pro Se – This refers to the act of choosing to represent oneself in court, whether it be family court or otherwise. This is generally not recommended, especially in the case of a divorce. Unfortunately, even situations where a divorce seems to be amicable can change quickly due to the highly emotional state of divorce proceedings. By having legal representation through every step of the process, you can ensure that your best interests are protected and that you have a legal team to turn to for guidance and answers to your questions.

Spousal Support – Spousal support is also referred to as alimony or maintenance. It refers to the payment given by one spouse to another following a separation or divorce.

Subpoena – An order that someone appear in court.

Parenting Time – The allotted time given to a party (often a parent) to spend with a child.

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the more common family law terms, you’ll be better prepared. If you’re going through a divorce and have not yet consulted with a family lawyer, now is the time to set up a consultation. Based in New Albany, Indiana, Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law proudly serves communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN. Contact us today by giving us a call or using our online form.

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