Most individuals will only go through a single divorce in their life, as statistics report only 12% of individuals engage in more than one divorce. Therefore, many walking into a divorce have no prior knowledge or experience with the legal terms involved in a divorce proceeding. However, it can be critical to your case to understand certain terms to aid in your initial filings, subsequent hearings, and negotiations. Therefore, your Orlando Divorce Attorney has compiled a list of the top legal terms that will likely arise in your case.
Alimony: financial aid, or monetary support paid by one spouse to another; can also be referred to as Spousal Maintenance or Spousal Support; can be applied in a few different formats depending upon the unique factors in each case.
Annulment: declares a marriage legally void, returning the parties to single status, as though the marriage never occurred; only available to parties in limited circumstances.
Best Interest of the Child: standard established by Florida Statute, required to be implemented by the courts to determine any issue relating to a minor child; including custody, support, emancipation, or visitation.
Contempt: failure to abide by a valid court order; can be criminal or civil in nature, resulting in penalties such as fines, reprimand, or imprisonment.
Contested Divorce: where the parties do not agree on at least one issue within their divorce proceedings, making it necessary to negotiate or ask the court to decide through a formal hearing. In contrast with an Uncontested Divorce, where the parties have come to an agreement on all issues leaving nothing for the parties or court to decide.
Custodial Parent: the parent who retains physical and legal custody of the child by court order, this parent is usually the majority timesharing individual. In contrast with a Non-Custodial Parent, who retains legal custody as well, but is provided with visitation rights.
Default: where a party fails to respond to a petition or motion within the timeline provided by statute, the court may deem them to have voluntarily waived their right to be heard, and grant the opposing party their requested relief.
Discovery: the process of exchanging documents and information between parties relevant to the issues presented in the case.
Dissolution: the legal termination of a marriage granted by a court; also known as a divorce.
Equitable Distribution: the legal separation and division of marital property, including assets and liabilities, between spouses; this is not necessarily an equal 50/50 division of the property, but rather what the court deems is fair and equitable when weighing the circumstances of the parties.
Home State: determined under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act as the state in which the minor child lived for the six months immediately prior to the filing of the action.
Marital Property: generally defined as all property acquired during the time of the marriage, whether individually acquired by a single spouse or jointly acquired by the couple. In contrast with Non-Marital Property, which is largely property that was acquired by a spouse prior to entering into the marriage.
No Fault Divorce: the standard, or grounds, for divorce in Florida do not require fault by either party to be proven in order to obtain a divorce, rather Florida provides for divorces on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
Petitioner: the spouse who initiated the divorce proceedings by filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. In contrast with the Defendant, who is the spouse in which the divorce proceeding is brought against and is served with the Petition for Dissolution.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order: also known as a QDRO; a court order requiring a third party to comply with division of a pension or retirement account to provide a spouse with a portion of the funds in the account.
Service of Process: generally simplified to the term of being “served;” the event where the Defendant is provided with a copy of the Petition for Dissolution as well as Summons issued by the Clerk of Court.
Subpoena: a document requiring the presence of a third-party individual in court or at a deposition, or requiring the third party to provide certain documents.
Visitation: the term used to describe the non-custodial parent’s legal access or time allotted with the minor child.
Of course, these are basic definitions and your Orlando Divorce Attorney will explain these in more detail as needed, and when they arise in your case. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney is available to explain every step in the divorce process with you and will ensure you are protected and properly informed.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.