With the amount of divorces filed in January comes a ton of new clients seeking advice. Most of the time the people who are seeking divorce advice haven’t been around this block before. A majority of the time, this is the person’s first rodeo. They’re learning for the first time what the jargon really means, unless of course they’ve been watching Divorce Court on TV then they obviously know exactly what every term could possibly mean… kidding! People will come to their initial meeting and stare blankly as we discuss preliminary hearings and throw out latin terms as if they’re second nature (because they are). Then we see the happy relief on their face when we exchange the terms for layman’s explanations. I understand this situation. When people explain computer terms to me without a color diagram or picture, I get the exact same frustration building inside me. That being said, here is part one of contested divorce terms that may help you for your appointments:
1) Contested: this means you two are not agreeing on every aspect of the divorce. This does not mean that one person wants the divorce and the other person does not. (It also doesn’t mean that an uncontested is simply that both of you want a divorce).
2) Child Support: money intended to support your child. This is money to pay for their day to day needs. The custodial parent receives this in order to be able to afford to provide for the minor child.
3) Pendente Lite Hearing/Relief (PLR): This means that there is a quick hearing to determine the temporary matters to get you through a divorce (temporary child support, temporary alimony, temporary split of bills, etc.)
4) Alimony: Money paid to your spouse to account for their standard of living.
5) Complaint: The initial document filed that asks for a divorce. Normally, this document asks for everything you want in the divorce whether or not you will receive it.
6) Answer: An Answer is what you file to answer (how clever!) a complaint to let them know you know of what they’re asking for and their allegations against you.
7) Counterclaim: This is the Defendant’s opportunity to file a complaint asking for what they want within the divorce.
8) Petition for Modification: You already had a divorce or child custody action, and you wish to modify it.
9) Petition to Rule Nisi: Someone didn’t do what the previous Order told them to do. This is fancy for contempt.
10) Guardian Ad Litem: An attorney who looks out for the best interests of the child.
11) Real Property: Real estate (land, house, etc.)
12) Personal Property: your “things” you have around your house. Yes, this includes pets.
13) Discovery: A bunch of inquiries and requests that seek to find out all evidence you intend to use at trial or could be used at trial against you.
14) Retainer: A sum paid for the services of your attorney. Your attorney will take this amount, and bill against it (somewhat like a prepaid cell phone).
15) Ex Parte: Talking to the Judge, or filing a document with a Judge, when the other party or attorney is not involved. This is heavily frowned upon with the exception of emergency situations.
16) Pro se: This person is representing themselves. You know what they say about a person who represents themselves? They have a fool for a client. Don’t be a fool, give us a call!