Divorce Terms Glossary

Alimony- support that is paid from one spouse to the other

Answer- a response that has been written to a complaint, motion, or petition.

Associate Judge- an Associate Judge is an assistant to a judge. The Associate Judge handles temporary issues and can make recommendations to the judge. If the overseeing judge agrees, they may enact the rulings of the Associate Judge as an order.

Child Support- state mandated support ordered by the court that instructs one parent to pay the other parent an amount for the child or children’s care. The court determines the amount.

Citation- a legal notice that you have been sued

Community Property- this is property that has been acquired by both parties at the time of the divorce. If one spouse insists that property is not Community, they bear the burden of proving that fact to the court

Contempt- a ruling made by the court that states one party has violated a written order, to be found in Contempt results in punishment

Custody- custody determines where a child will live and who determines the child’s care. Custody may be either sole or joint, but courts generally prefer to choose custody determined on the best interests of the child.

Decree of Divorce-this is the final order written by the court. The Divorce Decree maps out the divisions of property, custody, visitation, supports, etc. All aspects of the divorce ruling are written in the Decree of Divorce.

Deposition- this is a sworn testimony either by court reporter or by videotape. An attorney often takes the Deposition

Discovery- this is how the opposing parties discover information about each other. It may occur through an exchange of written documentation, interrogation, or Depositions.

Dissolution- this is the legal ending of a marriage union.

Filing- filing is when you give all of your legal papers to the Clerk of the Circuit Court

Grounds for Divorce- different states have laws that determine what reasons must take place for a divorce to occur

Joint Managing Conservators- this is mistakenly believed to mean that there are equal periods of possession; this isn’t the truth. Joint Managing Conservators states that by an agreement or court order, the parties will share rights, powers, and privileges and have court ordered periods of possession of the children.

Judgment- this is the court’s final ruling or decision

Maintenance- this is support that is paid to a spouse during the period of time that a divorce is pending

Master- A Master is an Associate Judge; Associate Judge often replaces the term

Mediation- this is a court-designed process where both parties try to resolve their issues and come to an agreement with the assistance of a trained intermediary. The mediator cannot be used as a witness in trial and has no legal power to make independent legal decisions.

Motion- this is a filing or pleading of one party towards the court based upon a specific request

Movant- A Movant is the person who files a motion

Orders-the Order is a document that has been written and signed by the judge. Orders may be temporary or final. The Orders are the legal standing of the judge’s ruling, and both parties must abide by the Court’s orders

Petition for Divorce- the Divorce proceeding begins by one party petitioning, or requesting the court for a divorce

Petition to Modify- This is a written plea or request that asks a court to change an existing final order.

Petitioner- the Petitioner is the party that files the motion

Pleadings- Pleadings are the Requests that are filed with the court. These include petitions, answers, and motions

Possessory Conservator-The Possessory Conservatory is the party that is responsible for paying child support. They also have periodic periods of possession of the children.

Property Division- the court’s ruling that determines how property and debt are distributed between both parties. The ruling must be fair and just, and courts do not award the property of one party to the other.

Reconciliation- Reconciliation is when the divorced parties agree to end proceedings and reconcile their marriage

Respondent- The Respondent is the person who responds to the Petition. The Respondent files an “Answer” with the court. The Respondent may also file a Counter Petition with the court.

Separate Property- Separate Property is property that was yours before you were married, or gifts or inheritances that you received during the marriage. The court may not award separate property to the other spouse.

Service of Process- The delivery of citations that are received by the Respondent. A Private Process Server, Sheriff, or Constable often delivers the Service of Process. The Petition for Divorce, Petition to Modify, Notices of Hearings, Dispositions, and Restraining Orders are delivered through the Service of Process.

Subpoena- A Subpoena is a summons to appear in court at a specified time. You will either be subpoenaed to testify or to present specified documents to the court.

Temporary Hearing- A Temporary Hearing is set by the court and is used for the purpose of the court making determinations that will take effect throughout the duration of the suit or trial.

Temporary Orders- These orders are set by the court after a Temporary Hearing. The Temporary Orders are followed throughout the duration of the suit or trial.

Temporary Restraining Order- A Restraining Order that is issued until a temporary hearing is held.

Trial- A trial is a hearing that takes place in court before a judge. During a trial, both the petitioner and the respondent get to present their case this includes introducing both witnesses and evidence.

Uncontested Divorce-In an Uncontested Divorce, both parties agree to the conditions and terms regarding the children, support, debt, and property.

Venue- the Venue is the county where the divorce case and proceedings are heard and take place.

Waiting Period-There is a sixty-day waiting period in the state of Texas in which divorce cases must be filed before they can be finalized. Typically, if the divorce is contested, the trial will take place well over the initial 60-day waiting period.

Waiver of Citation- It is important to understand that a Waiver of Citation may have serious consequences on the result of your trial. A Waiver of Citation states that your forfeit your right to be notified or served by a Sheriff, Constable, or Private Process Server due to the Petition of Divorce. However, this also includes forfeiting your right to be notified of hearings, trail and court dates, or any amendments to the case.