At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Central Mississippi, we know that legal notions of Family Law, as well as legal terms themselves, have developed and grown over many years. During that transformation, a specialized vocabulary has emerged which can make navigating Family Law disputes difficult to someone other than an experienced attorney. This is especially true for cases and disputes involving divorce. Could you benefit from knowing some basic vocabulary?
Have a look at the divorce terms below, which our colleagues at the American Bar Association have called, “The Language of Divorce.”
- Action – The legal term for a lawsuit.
- Alimony – Payment of support from one party to another for that ex-spouse’s financial support. This is sometimes called maintenance. Various forms of alimony include permanent alimony, temporary spousal support, and rehabilitative alimony.
- Annulment – The legal ending of an invalid marriage, or ending of a marriage within six months after the marriage took place.
- Child Support – Financial support for a child.
- Common Law Marriage – A relationship between a man and a woman, recognized as a marriage although no license or ceremony was involved. Mississippi does not recognize common law marriage.
- Marital Property – Property acquired during a marriage as a result of the spouses’ work and efforts together.
- Contested Case – Any case in which the court must decide one or more disputed issues.
- Custody – The legal right and responsibility awarded by a court for care, possession, and raising of a child. Distinctions are sometimes made between legal (decision-making) authority and physical custody.
- Dissolution – The act of terminating a marriage.
- Grounds – The reason for granting a divorce according to the law.
- Joint Custody – The shared right and responsibility of both parents awarded by the court for possession, care, and raising of the children.
- Joint Legal Property – The parents or parties share the decision-making rights, the responsibilities and the authority relating to the health, education and welfare of a child. An award of joint legal custody obligates the parties to exchange information concerning the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and to confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority.
- Joint Property – Property held in the name of more than one person, often the parties to the divorce.
- Marital Settlement Agreement – Often called a property settlement agreement or separation agreement, this written document detailing the parties’ settlement entered is into the court record.
- Irreconcilable Differences Divorce a/k/a “No Fault Divorce” – A divorce granted without a party having to prove the other party’s marital misconduct, or “fault.” Both spouses must agree to divorce. Generally, this is an uncontested divorce proceeding in which the parties have reached an agreement on all issues and do not request that the court resolves any disagreement. However, parties can agree to divorce and request the court to decide issues touching the children and property.
- Order – The court’s ruling on a motion requiring the parties to do certain things or setting forth their rights and responsibilities.
- Separate Maintenance – According to Bell on Mississippi Family Law this relief is available to a husband or wife who is financially dependent on the other, and who is not substantially at fault in the separation. A separate maintenance award orders the payor to return home or provide support. Mississippi law does not provide for legal separation.
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – This order of the court prohibits one party from doing something – for example, threatening or harassing the other party or disposing of property.
While not an exhaustive list of divorce terms, we hope these brief descriptions will help you understand more about the legal issues involved in this important segment of Family Law practice. For Mississippians facing these issues, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC is here to help.
If you have questions about your personal situation or to arrange an affordable initial consultation with an experienced Family Law attorney, contact The Wade Law Firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form. From Family Law to Wills, Estates and Life Planning, we are here to help you navigate through difficult legal contested and uncontested matters.