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Understanding Divorce and Custody: Common Terms Defined

Divorce and Custody

Navigating the legal landscape of divorce and custody can be intimidating, especially when faced with many unfamiliar terms and jargon. This blog aims to explain some of the most common terms used in divorce and custody proceedings, providing clarity and understanding to those undergoing these challenging processes.

1. Divorce Terms:

a. Petitioner/Plaintiff: The spouse who initiates the divorce proceedings by filing a petition with the court.
b. Respondent/Defendant: The spouse who responds to the petition for divorce filed by the petitioner.
c. Alimony (Spousal Support): Financial support paid by one spouse to the other either temporarily or permanently, typically to maintain the receiving spouse’s standard of living post-divorce.
d. Property Division: The process of dividing marital assets and debts between the spouses equitably or equally, depending on the jurisdiction.
e. Dissolution: Another term for divorce, indicating the legal termination of a marriage.

2. Custody Terms:

a. Legal Custody: The right to make decisions regarding the upbringing and welfare of a child, including decisions about education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
b. Physical Custody: The right to have a child physically reside with a parent or guardian.
c. Joint Custody: When both parents share legal and/or physical custody of their child.
d. Sole Custody: When one parent has exclusive legal and/or physical custody of the child.
e. Visitation (Parenting Time): The schedule outlining when the non-custodial parent spends time with the child.

3. Child Support Terms:

a. Child Support: Financial payments made by one parent to the other to help cover the costs of raising a child.
b. Child Support Guidelines: State-specific calculations used to determine the amount of child support owed based on factors such as each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and custody arrangements.
c. Arrears: Unpaid child support payments that have accumulated over time.
d. Modification: A legal process to change the terms of an existing child support order due to significant changes in circumstances, such as a change in income or custody arrangements.

Understanding the terminology surrounding divorce and custody proceedings is crucial for effectively navigating these legal matters. By familiarizing yourself with these common terms, you can better communicate with your legal counsel and advocate for your rights and the well-being of your family. Contact Jacobson Family Law at 443-741-1147 to discuss your situation in detail with an experienced attorney, or book your appointment online.