Florida Divorce Glossary of Important Terms

Divorce can be confusing, especially when you’re dealing with terms you may not understand. Making sure you know these terms will help ease some stress of your divorce.

Helpful Florida divorce terms

Alimony: a payment of support provided by one spouse to the other. Annulment: a marriage can be dissolved in a legal proceeding in which the marriage is declared void, as though it never took place. In the eyes of the law, the parties were never married. It is available only under certain limited circumstances. Best interests of the child: Legal standard used to determine child custody, visitation and support Common law marriage: a common law marriage comes about when a man and woman who are free to marry agree to live together as husband and wife without the formal ceremony. To be common law married, both spouses must have intended to be husband and wife. Maryland does not recognize common law marriages. Custodial parent: the spouse who has physical custody of the spouse’s’ child or children. Custody-sole & joint: refers to the legal arrangements for whom a child will live with and how decisions about the child will be made. Custody has two parts: legal and physical. Legal custody is the decision-making part: physical custody refers to where the child lives on a regular basis. Generally, the parent the child does not live with will be allowed to have regular visits with the child. Parents can make any custodial arrangement that is in the best interest of their children. The standard for custody is “best interest of the child”. Defendant: the person the case is brought against. Dissolution: the legal end of a marriage. Equitable distribution: The division of property between the spouses, and usually only that property bought or acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. Fault-based divorce: divorce action where misconduct by one spouse is needed before a marriage may be ended. Jurisdiction: the authority of the court to hear a case. Legal separation: a court order allowing spouses to live separate and apart while remaining legally married. Non-custodial parent: the spouse who doesn’t have physical custody of the spouses’ child or children. No-fault divorce: a divorce that doesn’t require one spouse to prove the other spouse’s fault or misconduct before being entitled to a divorce. Non-marital property: property that belongs to only one spouse and won’t be included in any equitable distribution of property. Paternity test: proving the identity of a child’s biological father through scientific methods. Pendente lite: temporary arrangements for custody, child support, child visitation, alimony, us and possession of the family home, etc., until a final hearing. Prenuptial agreement: a contract signed by the spouses before the marriage setting out each spouse’s rights to property and assets in the case of a divorce. Separate property: property or assets that belong to one spouse and usually won’t be included in the property distribution or division. Spousal support: one spouse’s payment to the other for financial support; the same as alimony or maintenance. Subpoena: a form issued by the court requiring someone to appear in court and/or bring documents. Temporary support: payments made by one spouse to the other for financial support while the divorce action is pending. Uncontested divorce: when the defendant is not going to try to stop the divorce and there are no issues for the court to decide about the children, money, or property. Visitation: the non-custodial parent’s right to spend time with the spouse’s child or children.
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