Understanding 'Divorce Language'

If this is your first divorce, you may encounter some terms that you're unfamiliar with. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to keep asking, "What does that mean?" or having to Google every new divorce-related word.

Here's a handy list so you can understand what the court documents and your divorce attorney is talking about. Of course, if you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Adultery: This means infidelity, cheating.

Alimony or Spousal Support: This is the money the higher-earning spouse pays to the lower-earning spouse for financial support. It's usually tax deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the receiving spouse.

Attorney Fees: The money paid to your divorce attorney for their services.

Child Support: Money that one parent pays to the other parent for the child's expenses, such as food, shelter, and clothing. Additional funds can be awarded for unreimbursed medical expenses, such as braces.

Community Property: This refers to "marital property," or the property owned by both spouses. Community property generally refers to the property acquired by both spouses during the course of the marriage.

Divorce Mediation: The couple, along with a mediator tries to hash out the terms of their divorce outside of court. With mediation, the couple maintains control and customizes their divorce settlement agreement in a non-adversarial setting.

Earning Capacity: A spouse's ability to earn money. Things taken into consideration include education, job experience, and training.

Jurisdiction: This is the state where your divorce takes place. Typically, by living someplace for six months, that state has jurisdiction over your divorce.

Plaintiff/ Petitioner and Defendant/Respondent: The spouse who files the divorce is the plaintiff or petitioner. The spouse who had the divorce filed against them is the defendant or respondent.

Separate Property: Property that belongs solely to one spouse that is not subject to division. For example, gifts, inheritances, and property owned before the marriage are usually separate property.

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