If you are entering the legal world of divorce proceedings, some of the terms may seem foreign to you. Of course, your attorney can explain in detail what you need to know, but if you want a basic understanding of the most common terms, keep reading. It is important to have a good grasp of how the outcome of these proceedings will affect you and your loved ones.

Divorce Terms You Need To Know During Your Divorce

What Exactly Is Alimony?

Alimony may also be referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support. It is the monetary payments made to assist a spouse or former spouse while separated or after the divorce is final. It’s well worth keeping in mind that alimony laws differ from state to state. For example, in Alabama, alimony is usually limited to a period of five years. After which point in time the recipient of the alimony payments is no longer eligible to receive the spousal report. However, if a couple was married for 20 years or longer before they divorced, one of the individuals may be eligible to receive alimony payments.

Are There Other Ways To Settle Legal Disagreements Without Going To Court?

The Importance Of An Alabama Divorce AttorneyYes. Other ways include professional mediation or arbitration, as the lawyers at Cohen & Cohen can explain.

If a former couple decides to go down the road of arbitration, their divorce case will be analyzed by an independent third party, who is known as an arbitrator. In this circumstance, the appointed arbitrator will have the power to provide a final, binding decision on a divorce case.

However, if a former couple who wish to divorce opt for meditation, they may be able to reach a legal agreement that they are both satisfied with, with the help of a mediator. If you are still on friendly terms with your former partner and would prefer for your divorce proceedings to remain civil and for you to both walk away from your divorce feeling satisfied, you may want to find out more information about professional mediation. As there is a high chance that you’ll both be able to walk away with your divorce with the assets that are most important to you.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

Child support is financial support given by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help support the child or children. The amount is generally calculated based on the needs of the child/children and the income of the parents. Generally, the more money that an individual earns, the higher their child support payments are likely to be.

As an example, if a married couple decides to divorce and their shared children attended a private school prior to their divorce, the non-custodial parent may be asked to contribute to their kids’ private school fees. To ensure that their children are not adversely affected by their parent’s divorce. Typically, child support will ensure that the children that a divorced couple shares will be able to enjoy the same quality of life that they enjoyed when their parents were still married.

Custody Explained

Steps For Filing A Divorce In AlabamaThe rights to your child/children are called custody. Physical custody means that your child lives with you and you are raising the child. Legal custody means the right to decide important issues about the welfare of your child.

You can have joint legal custody where both parents share the responsibility of making important decisions. You can also have joint physical custody of the child, sharing both physical care and custody. This may be a great option if you are still on friendly terms with your ex-partner and trust them with the welfare of your children.

However, if you have strong reason to believe that your ex-partner should not have custody of your shared children, it’s well worth talking to your lawyer about fighting for full custody or sole custody of your children. As an example, if your ex-partner is physically or emotionally abusive, you are well within your rights to take legal actions in order to try and prevent your ex-partner from getting custody of your children. As in a divorce, your children should be your number one priority.

What Is The Divorce Decree?

This is the official written order by the court to finalize your divorce. Sometimes it is referred to as the final judgment or the judgment of a divorce. Once a divorce decree is in effect, either party can legally marry again and any assets that were distributed can no longer be contested. This means that if you receive an asset like a property through your divorce proceedings and your divorce decree is issued, your former spouse will no longer contest ownership of the property that you received.

If you would like to obtain a copy of your official divorce decree, you must contact the Circuit Court that issued your divorce decree.

What Does It Mean To Be In Default?

If you fail to respond to a complaint or petition for divorce you run the risk of having the court award everything requested to the filing spouse. This is called being in default. In order to avoid finding yourself in default, it’s important to hire a divorce lawyer, so that you won’t forget any important dates that are related to your divorce proceedings. As the penalty for being in default is significant and you could lose all of the assets which you acquired during your marriage. Such as property and shares.

Do I Need To File A Deposition?

Yes, it is part of the process of obtaining and exchanging information in a legal process. The attorney for the other person presents questions for you to answer, which you will do in the presence of your lawyer. A transcript is then created of the proceedings. In order to meet your legal responsibilities, be sure, to tell the truth during your deposition. As if you are caught trying to conceal certain facts that may not help your case, you risk losing the assets which you have chosen to contest, to your soon-to-be former spouse.

What Is Equitable Distribution?

This is when the property is divided in a way that, because of the circumstances, is deemed fair. Remember, fair does not always mean equal. In some cases, one individual may receive more than 50% of a property as they may have put a lot more money into the property, than their former spouse. If you believe that you paid for over 50% of your shared assets as a married couple, it’s a wise idea to try to claim over 50% of the assets that are to be divided up. This is particularly true if you ran a business with your former partner and invested a lot more time and money into your business than your spouse.

What Are Marital And Non-Marital Properties?

Marital property is basically any property that you and your spouse purchased or acquired while you were married. So, if you purchased a family home with your spouse and both of your names are on the deed to your home, this property will be deemed marital property.

Non-marital property may include items that one spouse inherits or that they owned prior to the marriage. For example, if you purchased a property before you were married or inherited a family property before you were married, these assets are described as non-marital properties. If you have a prenup, you may have agreed that each individual would have full ownership of the assets which they brought into the marriage. Although, it’s wise to double-check the exact terms of your prenup, if you have one, to see if your prenup divvies up pre-marital assets such as non-marital properties.

If I’ve Been Married For Years, Can I Get Part Of Retirement Benefits?

There is an order that the court issues called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that is used to divide retirement benefits. Be sure to ask your attorney if this is something that will affect your divorce.

What Are Visitation Rights?

This is the time allotted for the noncustodial parent to spend with their child/children. It is important to fully understand the visitation terms. Visitation rights can vary greatly. For example, in one agreement the non-custodial parent may have the right to visit their child or children once a week, while another non-custodial parent may have negotiated the right to have their kids stay at their house, every second weekend. In some scenarios, a non-custodial parent may only be able to visit their kids under the supervision of a third party, such as a grandparent.

In Conclusion

Now that you have read all of the 11 key legal terms that you are likely to come across during your legal divorce proceedings, you should feel more confident in your ability to make wise decisions. Although, it’s still worth getting in touch with a divorce lawyer at your earliest convenience as they’ll be able to advocate for your best interests.

If you are looking into getting a divorce, you want someone who is going to be on your side. Connect with us at Charlotte Christian Law Firm by phone at (256) 769-0508, or online at charlottechristianlaw.com to find an attorney that will go to bat for you both in and out of court. We will advocate for you. 

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    About The Author

    Charlotte Christian, Esq. is a family and divorce lawyer and founder of Charlotte Christian Law. Born and raised in the Yellowhammer State she still calls home, Charlotte is committed to helping those who experienced loss overcome their hardships and build a new life, stronger and more resilient than they were before. No stranger to trauma herself, including enduring the sudden losses of her father while a young child and husband after 10 years of marriage, Charlotte knows what it means practically and legally to put the pieces in place to create a future filled with security, hope, and opportunity, and find happiness once again. An avid sports fan, you can find Charlotte supporting SEC Athletics.