Alimony – the payment of support to a former spouse.
Alimony Pendente Lite – the payment of support to a spouse while the divorce is pending.
Arrears – money owed and not yet paid for past child support and/or alimony
Best Interest Standard - this is the standard the Courts use in custody matters when determining where the child should live. It focuses on the needs of the child, not the desires of the parents.
Child Support– payments made to support the children financially.
Civil Restraints – alternative to a final restraining order where violence has occurred but a final restraining order may be detrimental to the family. Does not provide for criminal sanctions.
Cohabitation - when a payee ex-spouse is in a mutually supportive intimate relationship where she and his/her significant other have undertaken duties and privileges usually associated with marriage. Usually involves financial interdependence.
Complaint for Divorce (sometimes referred to as the petition for divorce) - The document filed with the court that initiates the divorce proceedings.
Cutoff Agreement– an agreed upon date used for dividing assets. Often used in Mediation when the divorce complaint has yet to be filed.
Discovery - The formal process in litigation in which the parties exchange documents and information. In divorce proceedings, discovery is the stage when each spouse requests from the other spouse copies of all documents and information pertaining to their marriage. This information includes, but is not limited to, copies of bank and credit card statements, mortgages, deeds, and other financial interests, as well as all records pertaining to the children. This is usually a lengthy and expensive process. While formal discovery does not take place in mediation, the parties will exchange all documents and information that is required for each to be satisfied that he or she is making fully informed decisions.
Divorce from Bed and Board - a limited divorce in which the parties remain legally married. Often preferred in certain religions.
Emancipation –an event in the child’s life that triggers the cessation of the payment of child support.
Equitable Distribution– the division of marital assets and debts; applies to assets or debuts accumulated by either or both spouses from the date of marriage to the date of filing of the complaint; or in the alternative, the date of the cutoff agreement.
Final Restraining Order– An order resulting from a hearing in which the Plaintiff proved by a preponderance of the evidence allegations plead in his/her application for Temporary Restraining Order. If Plaintiff proves his/her case, the Court may grant relief restraining Defendant from contacting the Plaintiff or from entering the Plaintiff’s home or place of business; granting Plaintiff temporary custody of a child; ordering Defendant to pay rent or mortgage payments on Plaintiff’s residence; ordering Defendant to relinquish firearms; ordering Defendant to provide monetary relief for the minor children; among other things. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28.
Judgment of Divorce - The document or decree that is signed by the judge granting the divorce between the parties. Uncontested Divorce In an uncontested divorce, the parties have reached an agreement and do not contest any of the issues related to the marriage. Equitable Distribution The process of dividing fairly the marital property owned by the parties. Equitable does not mean equal and this often confuses people. “Equitable” division of the property can depend on a number of factors. In NJ, the factors considered by the court are identified in New Jersey Statutes 2A:34-23.1.
Legal Custody – focuses on which parent will make important decisions for the child, such as religion, schooling, day care, and major medical decisions; almost always shared between the parents.
Litigation - The process in which one party sues another and seeks resolution from a court.
Marital Settlement Agreement / Property Settlement Agreement – an agreement that resolves issues of alimony, child support, custody, and division of assets and debts that can be signed by the parties before or after filing a complaint for divorce. This agreement is usually made part of the final judgment of divorce.
Memorandum of Understanding (also called an "MOU") - This document identifies the terms that were agreed to in divorce mediation. Once you and your spouse agree to the terms of settlement, a Memorandum of Understanding is drafted. Once the parties agree on the MOU, each spouse is provided two copies; one for themselves and one for his or her review attorney.
Nesting – when the children stay in the same home and the parents rotate, exercising their parenting time in the house where the children reside.
Obligee/Payee – the party receiving child support and/or alimony payments.
Obligor/Payor– the party responsible for child support and/or alimony payments.
Parental Alienation– when a child becomes estranged from a parent due to the psychological manipulation of the other parent.
Parent of Alternate Residence – the parent with whom the child spends time with, though less than with the parent of primary residence.
Parent of Primary Residence– the parent with whom the child spends more time with/lives with for a greater amount of time.
Parenting Time – what the layperson calls “visitation”. This is time spent with either parent.
Participation Agreement - The Participation Agreement is the contract that is signed at the first meeting by you, your spouse, and the Collaborative Professionals involved in your case. It sets out the expectations of everyone involved in the collaborative process – to engage in the collaborative process openly and transparently and to resolve your issues through negotiation and cooperation. One of the most important provisions of the Participation Agreement is the agreement to stay out of court. If you choose to go to court before reaching a settlement, you must start over with new attorneys and new experts, and those that you used during the collaborative divorce process cannot contribute to your new case in any way. The underlying philosophy is that by removing the threat of court, parties will negotiate more openly, honestly and efficiently. The Participation Agreement expressly states this.
Another important provision of the Participation Agreement is confidentiality. The New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act protects the confidentiality of communications made as part of the collaborative law process. If a party terminates the collaborative process, neither can use any of the communications in subsequent litigation without the express, written consent of the other party. Also, neither party can use any of the communications of the other collaborative team members with their consent. Protecting the confidentiality of the process encourages open and frank settlement discussions, which inevitably will lead to a resolution. Who signs the Participation Agreement?
The parties and every collaborative professional involved in the case signs the Participation Agreement. Not all professionals sign at the same time. At the first meeting, the parties and the attorneys will review and sign the agreement. If the parties have already engaged a divorce coach, financial advisor, or some other neutral professional, then that professional will also need to sign the Participation Agreement at the first meeting. Most commonly, though, the other professionals will add their signatures to the Participation Agreement as they join the collaborative team.
It is important that you read the Participation Agreement closely, and review it with your attorney. Any questions or concerns should be addressed before you sign it. It is a contract and you will be bound by its terms. Be certain to retain an experienced, collaboratively trained attorney that will guide you through the execution of the Participation Agreement and help you navigate the collaborative law process.
Physical Custody–where the child primarily resides.
Pro se – appearing on one’s own behalf without a lawyer.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) – an order that gives a spouse a share of the other spouse’s pension or retirement funds upon divorce.
Residency Requirement - A party may file for divorce in New Jersey if the grounds for divorce occurred in New Jersey. One of the parties must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year at the time of the filing of the Complaint. The only exception to the one year residency requirement is a filing based on the grounds of adultery, which has no residency requirement.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – temporary order obtained from the Court as a result of past/present domestic abuse. Stays in effect until hearing for a Final Restraining Order, which will occur within 10 days. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28
Settlement Agreement (also known as a Property Settlement Agreement or a Marital Settlement Agreement) - This is the final contract between the parties. If you enter into a Settlement Agreement, then you will not need a trial, i.e., a judge will not determine the terms of your divorce because all of the issues are addressed in your Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement must be submitted to the court with the Complaint for Divorce so that the court knows that all of the issues between the parties have been settled. At the time of the divorce, the Settlement Agreement may be incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce. This creates an enforceable judicial order instead of just a contract.
Shared Custody – when the children split their time evenly or close to evenly with each parent, the parents “share custody”.
Uncontested Divorce– divorce in which there are no remaining economic or other issues (i.e. alimony, custody, child support) between spouses and both agree that the divorce be finalized.
Uncontested Divorce Hearing - the hearing that is scheduled and takes place after you have entered a Marital Settlement Agreement at the conclusion of which the Judge grants your divorce. The actual hearing (the amount of time you are before the Judge) is very short. During the hearing, your attorney (or the judge if you do not have any attorney) will ask you questions about the marriage, your residency and the settlement agreement. All of the questions are straightforward and easily answered once you have a final settlement. It is also during this hearing when you can request to resume your maiden name if you so desire.
Uniform Summary Support Order (USSO) – a Court Order directing the obligor to pay the obligee child support and/or alimony. Said support can be paid through probation or paid directly to the obligee.
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