Understanding some of the most important divorce terminology
Many legal matters can become clouded and bogged down by the terminology used in paperwork, attorney discussions, and courtroom settings. Therefore, we’ve prepared the following list of the top 10 must-know divorce terms and phrases for you to use as a reference in case of any potential confusion.
10 Family Law Phrases Defined
- Absolute Divorce: Absolute divorce is the final, or absolute, legal conclusion of a marriage as well as the divorce process. At this stage, legally speaking, all issues have been resolved. Further, both Parties are now also allowed to legally enter into a new marriage once again.
- Alimony: The court may dictate that one Party pays a set amount of money to the other, with these payments being known as alimony. Alimony is not the same as, and does not replace, child support payments.
- Physical Child Custody: Child custody is the process of determining which Party obtains custody of the child. The child continues to primarily live with and be supported by the custodial parent. It’s important to note that sole custody or joint custody may be awarded in different scenarios.
- Child Support: Separate from alimony (above), the court may dictate that one Party pay the other a set amount of money which is directly for the needs of the child. There are many different factors to consider alongside important Maryland child support guidelines.
- Grounds for Divorce: Maryland’s grounds for divorce are the legally recognized reasons for filing for divorce. It’s important to pay attention strictly to the grounds for divorce in Maryland as states may include different grounds, or define the same ones in a different manner.
- Mediation: Maryland divorce mediation is a process in which the two Parties try to resolve issues related to their divorce outside of the courtroom. A mediator works with the two Parties to come to these resolutions, as opposed to relying upon the ruling of a judge in court. The potential benefits are a more amicable and less stressful approach, with more direct control.
- Mutual Consent: Mutual consent is a relatively new ground for divorce within the state of Maryland. If a couple has no children and have resolved all issues arising out of their marriage, including but not limited to division of property and alimony, (Link?), they may forego the typically mandatory 12 month separation period and immediately file for absolute divorce.
- Uncontested Divorce: As the name implies, when pursuing an uncontested divorce, neither Party is attempting to prove one of the specific grounds for divorce such as adultery or abuse. A 12 month separation period may then be applied as grounds for a no fault divorce
- Separation: Legal separation begins when a couple no longer lives in the same residence, and no longer has sexual relations. A 12 month separation window may be used as a grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland.
- Separation Agreement: Also known as Marital Settlement Agreements or Property Settlement Agreements, Separation agreements are written, legal agreements outlining potential issues in terms of living arrangements, child custody or support, finances and property, and so forth. A Maryland separation agreement may prove beneficial, but is ultimately generally not required—in other words, you’re not legally obligated to file a separation agreement but doing so may prevent further headaches down the road.