Divorce Dictionary

Abandoned Child
A child is abandoned when they have not been in substantial contact with their parent(s) or received any support from their parent(s).

Abandoned Spouse
A spouse is abandoned when they have not been in substantial contact with the other party, nor have they received any support from the other party.

Abuse is the physical or mental mistreatment of another.

Usually relates to a judicial proceeding, wherein evidence is presented to the court and deemed accepted or not based upon the Rules of Evidence.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This may include mediation or arbitration.

Adultery occurs when a married person engages in adult affairs with an outside individual.

Alienation Of Affection
Alienation of affection occurs when a third party willfully and maliciously interferes with a marriage. This usually occurs in the case of an affair. However this is not a cause of action in Florida.

In Florida, alimony or spousal support is based on many factors some of which are; length of the marriage, the needs of the receiving party, balanced against the ability of the other party to pay, income of the parties, and the presence of minor children. Also in Florida alimony may be classified as; bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent. Under IRS rules the payer may take a tax deduction, while the amounts the receiver gets will be treated as ordinary income and taxable. See Spousal support

A judicial finding the marriage was not valid. An annulment wipes out the entire marriage as though it never existed.

Antenuptial Agreement
An agreement entered into by two people who intend to get married to each other. This agreement sets forth the rights that each will have in the property of the other in the event of a divorce or death. Generally the fact that the parties actually got married is sufficient consideration to make these agreements enforceable. See Pre-Nuptial Agreement

An appearance occurs when a party comes to court either on their own of via their attorney.

A valuation or estimation of property by a disinterested qualified person.

The reference of a dispute to an impartial third party chosen by the parties, who agree to be bound by the findings.

The amount of money that is past due for child or spousal support purposes.

An assignment occurs when you transfer property to another.

You are bankrupt when you are unable to pay your current debts or when they become due. Bankruptcy is covered under Federal Laws.

Best Interest Of The Child
Florida courts consider the following 20 factors when making the overall determination of what is in the best interest of a child. These factors are directly from Florida Statute 61.13.

The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.

The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.

The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.

The moral fitness of the parents.

The mental and physical health of the parents.

The home, school, and community record of the child.

The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.

The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.

The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.

The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.

Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.

Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.

The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.

The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.

The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.

The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.

Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

Case Manager
Some courts have a Family Case Manager who helps to assist in maintaining the flow of the case through the system.

Child Support
Parents are required to support their children. The amounts are set by statute (based on the child support guidelines) and are based upon the income of both parents and the number of children. Child support is usually required until the child turns 18 yrs.

Child Support Guidelines
These are guidelines established by the State which set forth the manner in which child support must be calculated :

Circuit Court Judge
This is the primary decision maker in any family law case.

Clerk Of Court
The clerk of court is responsible for maintaining the records of the court.

Cohabitation exists when two parties live together and share each others lives. Cohabitation is more than roommates sharing expenses.

Common Law Marriage
A marriage that is considered valid by both parties but done without judicial or clergy authority.

Common Law Marriage
Common law marriages which occur after 1968 are not recognized in Florida. However Florida continues to recognize common law marriages which occur in other states.

Contempt Of Court
You are in contempt of court when you have ignored or violated an order of the court.

Contested And Uncontested Divorce
See divorce

The care and control of a minor child awarded to a parent in a divorce proceeding. Custody may be awarded to one parent or shared by both parents. See best interest of the child

Covers the period of time during which a women is married. This term is used when establishing the value of property acquired during the term of the marriage.

Defense of Marriage Act of 1996
This is a Federal law that provides for the non-recognition of same sex marriage.

A deposition a form of discovery used by attorneys prior to going to trial. A deposition usually occurs after a lawsuit has been filed. It gives the attorneys a chance to ask questions of the various witnesses in the case. Statements made during a deposition are usually recorded under oath and may be introduced during trial.

A process in which one party gains information held by the other party.

Dissolution Of Marriage
See divorce

A divorce is a judicial dissolution of the bonds of marriage. Divorce may be contested or uncontested.

Divorce Petition
A divorce petition is a document filed in court affirming that the marriage is broken and cannot be fixed and requesting the court to grant the divorce.

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of bad behavior which involves the abuse by one person against another. This usually occurs in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within the family. Domestic violence may also be known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV).

The wife's common law right to inherit property from her husband.

Equitable Distribution
As used during a divorce; equitable distribution involves dividing marital property in a fair and just way. This does not mean a 50/50 split all the time.

Evidence includes any relevant information which would assist the judge in making ruling. Evidence may be verbal, written, sound, video, smell, etc.

Ex Parte (Hearing, Motion, Order)
A decision made by a judge without requiring all the parties to a dispute to be present.

Fair and Reasonable
The judicial standard for approving marital agreements. There are no winners or losers in divorce. Therefore fairness and consideration for the other party must always be considered.

Fair Market Value
The price a willing buyer pays a willing seller; not a fire sale price or a sale between family members for less than full price.

Fraud occurs when you make a material misrepresentation or fail to disclosure a material fact thereby inducing another to give up something of value.

Financial Affidavit
A financial affidavit is a sworn accurate statement of your income, assets, and liabilities.

General Magistrate
A general magistrate is a judge who works under the authority of the circuit court judge. They are usually involved in family law cases where neither party is represented by attorneys.

A proceeding wherein evidence is taken to determine an issue of fact, thereby allowing the judge to reach a decision in resolution of that issue.

A judicial order telling you to refrain from doing a particular act. An injunction may be temporary or permanent. A temporary injunction may only be issued if it is more than likely that you will prevail at trial. A restraining order is an injunction.

Interlocutory Hearing
Any court hearing in which a pretrial order or ruling is requested. Until the final order and interlocutory order is subject to appeal.

The legal authority granted to the courts to render legal decisions and judgments.

One who is licensed by the State to practice law.

Legal Separation
Legal separation is an alternative to divorce for a married couple who is not yet ready for divorce. Florida law does not recognize the concept of legal separation.

Marital Assets
These are assets which a married couple has gathered since they became married.

Marital Home
The marital home is an asset of a married couple. Usually it is the primary home of the couple and in most cases one of their largest assets.

Marital Settlement Agreement
This is the agreement which governs how a married couple will divide their assets and settle their debts to each other. Mediation is a great place to work out the details of a marital settlement agreement on items which the couple are having problems agreeing to.

Marriage Certificate
A marriage certificate is usually issued by a governing authority. In Florida a Marriage Certificate is issued by the Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics.

Mediation (Divorce)
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution service used in a divorce process. Divorce mediation may be voluntary or court ordered. In Florida, most family courts now require mediation prior to the adjudication of divorce. Divorce mediation also allows the couple to work out with each other, how they want to split their assets and debts. Also couples with minor children who use mediation, tend to be more satisfied with the outcome of a mediated divorce, than those going the litigated route.

A motion is a request to the court.

No-Fault Divorce
In Florida you do not have to prove marital misconduct (fault) in order to be granted a divorce. Either spouse can file for a divorce. You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken. Fault, however, may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility.

Parent Coordinator
A parent coordinator is a qualified professional who work with families in order to develop a comprehensive parenting plan for the couple and their children.

Parental Kidnapping
A parental kidnapping occurs when one parent takes and conceals the child without the knowledge or consent of the other parent. Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, a federal law addressing child abductions by parents.

Parenting Plan
A comprehensive plan which governs how a couple will parent their minor child(ren). These plans are usually developed due to a divorce.

Paternity is the legal relationship of a father and his child.

Perjury is knowingly lying and making false statements under oath in a judicial proceeding.

Post-Nuptial Agreement
A post nuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple after marriage. It is the opposite of a pre nuptial agreement.

Personal Property
Personal property includes cash, savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks, bonds, intellectual property, jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, and even pets. It does not include real estate, houses, buildings or land.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement
An agreement entered into by two people who intend to get married to each other. This agreement sets forth the rights that each will have in the property of the other in the event of a divorce or death. Generally the fact that the parties actually got married is sufficient consideration to make these agreements enforceable.

Primary Custodial Parent
In Florida the primary custodial parent is the parent with whom the child spends the majority of overnight stays.

Pro Se
This is a Latin term which literally means; to represent yourself.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO. Is issued by the Family Court with jurisdiction over the divorced couple, which orders the plan administrators of a pension or retirement plan to split the proceeds of the plan, in accordance with the order.

Spousal Support
In Florida spousal or alimony is based on many factors, some of which are length of marriage, the needs of the receiving party, balanced against the ability of the other party to pay, income of the parties, and the presence of minor children.

A subpoena is a judicial order demanding your appearance in court.

An agreement entered into by the divorcing spouses that settles the issues between them and is often entered into the court's final judgment and decree.



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