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Divorce Process Words to Know

Getting a divorce can be a scary thing. Your entire future could depend on how the court rules on the division of your estate. As part of your research, review familiar terms used during divorce proceedings. Knowing accurate divorce terms can help you relay the details of your case to your attorney.

In certain circumstances, alimony payments can be ordered by a judge. Alimony acts as spousal support and can be made as periodic payments or as a single lump sum. An alimony pendente can be ordered before the case goes to trial and the couple is separated.

An annulment occurs when the court rules that a marriage was never valid or became invalid after a legal ceremony took place. For instance, an annulment takes place if one of the parties was already married or the marriage never consummated.

Child Support
When child support is ordered as part of a divorce, the non-custodial parent must make payments to the custodial parent to care for their biological children. Emancipation is another divorce term to know in the case of child support rulings. Emancipation refers to the age of the child when child support payments are no longer required.

Deferred Compensation Package
Any savings and retirement earnings are categorized during a divorce as a deferred compensation package. This may include retirement plans, 401K plans, savings accounts and IRA monies. Divorce courts must rule on how to disperse these assets.

Joint Custody
Divorce terms to know if you have children include joint legal custody and joint physical custody. With joint legal custody, both parents make joint decisions on a childs medical care, schooling, religious matters and day to day life. With joint physical custody, the child spends the night at both parents houses.

Instead of entering into a court battle, couples can agree to go through mediation. Mediators help both parties agree to a separation agreement.

No-Fault Divorce
Under this ruling, it is decided that both parties are free of any misconduct that caused the dissolution of their marriage. On the other hand, a fault divorce occurs when the plaintiff accuses the ex-spouse of misconduct as grounds for a divorce.

Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a premarital contract listing the rights and responsibilities of each party in case of divorce or death. Premarital assets, which are monies accumulated before the marriage, may be disclosed in the prenuptial agreement.

For more information on divorce proceedings and common divorce terms used in court documentation, visit