Answer to Complaint
The formal legal document confirming or denying the allegations in the complaint.
The formal process in which the litigants present their case before an Arbitrator. Unlike a trial, Arbitration is usually less formal. However, there are limited rights to appeal.
Best Interest of the Child
A legal term of art used to define the twelve child custody factors a court must evaluate when awarding custody of a minor child under the Child Custody Act of 1970.
Case Management Conference
See Status Conference
The amount of financial assistance provided from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
The formal legal document that sets out the reasons for a divorce.
The party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff
A type of Discovery request. Testimony under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury given outside of the courtroom.
See Judgment of Divorce
The formal process by which the parties exchange information under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury.
Early Intervention Conference
A conference typically at the Friend of the Court that introduces the parties to the Court process when minor children are involved.
Established Custodial Environment
In a contested custody case, the existence of an established custodial environment defines the burden of proof by which the parent seeking to modify custody must prove his or her case. An established custodial environment exists if a child looked to a specific parent for the regular necessities of life for an appreciable period of time?
Ex Parte Order
An Order entered without a formal hearing.
Financial Status Quo
A Court Order requiring the parties to continue to contribute to the marital obligations.
A type of discovery request. Written questions that must be answered under oath.
Judgment of Divorce
The formal legal document that terminates the marriage, defines the custodial and support arrangements and divides the parties estate.
The parent responsible for “legal” or “major” decisions of the child. Typically, legal custody to both parties.
Typically property acquired during the course of the marriage and used for a marital purpose. Marital assets may also consist of pre-marital property that changed value during the course of the marriage.
A non-binding, informal settlement process with a neutral person (the mediator) who attempts to negotiate a settlement among the parties.
Mutual Restraining Order
A Court Order prohibiting the parties from doing something such as a prohibition on the sale of property during the divorce process.
The time a child spends with each parent.
The custodial or “primary” custodian. Where does the child spend the majority of his/her time?
The party who initiates a lawsuit or the Complaint
Typically, property acquired before or after marriage.
A Court date usually reserved to facilitate settlement and for the scheduling of a trial date.
Service of Process
The manner and method by which someone is put onlegal notice of the lawsuit. Typically a process server hands the Defendant the lawsuit, however service can be in other ways such as mail, publication, acknowledgment by the party.
A Court conference typically reserved for scheduling dates and assessing the status of the case.
A discovery request. A court order that requires a party to appear or for the production of documents.
The formal process in which the litigants present their case before a Judge (There is no right to a jury trial in a divorce case) who makes a ruling regarding the contested issues.
See parenting time