Family LawA Divorce Glossary

A Divorce Glossary


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Divorce lawyers and law firms can provide a great deal of divorce information and divorce advice; but sometimes, all that legal jargon can be confusing to say the least, not to mention intimidating. 

Getting a good, low cost divorce settlement requires planning and research. 

So, why not start here? 

We have provided you with a good glossary of legal terms related to the process of getting a divorce:


A regular support payment by one divorced spouse to the other 


A court declaration stating that a legal marriage never existed


Having a disputed matter settled by a third party who is not a judge.


A court-ordered seizure of a debtor’s property.

Attorney at Law

A state-licensed advocate who is hired to prepare, manage and try a case in court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

A process of negotiation, mediation and arbitration, in lieu of a trial, as a way to resolve issues pertaining to a judgment of divorce.

Case Information Statement (CIS)

A financial document specifying the details of your respective incomes, expenses, assets, and debts.

Child Support

Money paid by one ex-spouse to another toward their child’s expenses.

Common Law Marriage

A marriage without a license or ceremony in which the couple cohabitated for a minimum number of years (varies from state to state).


Failure to do something (such as make a payment) on time.


The legal procedures used to gather all the facts necessary to settle a case or to prepare the case for trial.

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

The legal separation of a married couple so that each one may be free to marry again.

Equitable Distribution

A fair division of the assets acquired during your marriage.

Inventory and Appraisement

A list of jointly-owned property along with the current value of each one.

Joint Legal Custody

An agreement in which a divorced couple share the rights and responsibilities of making major decisions about their child’s life.

Joint Physical Custody

The shared right to have a child live with one or the other parent at different times of the week or year.

Judgement of Divorce

A legal document following a settlement or trial that grants a divorce and states the court’s decisions with regard to alimony, support, custody, visitation rights, and equitable distribution.


Alimony or child support payments

Marital Settlement Agreement

An out-of-court agreement that resolves all issues surrounding a divorce. 


A process by which a dispute is resolved and an agreement between two parties is reached with the assistance of a disinterested third party known as a mediator.

Non-Marital Property 

Property that belongs exclusively to either the husband or the wife and, as such, cannot be divided between the two.

No-Fault Divorce

A divorce granted with the mutual agreement of two spouses, or when one spouse has left the marriage for a certain period of time (varies by state).

Rehabilitative Alimony

Alimony that helps the ex-spouse to become self-reliant.


The absence of one spouse from the household before a divorce.

Separation Agreement

A temporary agreement with regard to support, child custody and property for the period between the onset of separation and the granting of a divorce.


A husband or wife


Payment due to one spouse from the other regarding housing, food, clothing, and other expenses.


To switch legal ownership from one person to another.

Verification Statement

An oath declaring that the information stated in a document is true.


The right for a non-custodial parent to visit his or her child.

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