alimony - Spousal support ordered by a divorce court. Family support obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
divisible divorce- A procedure by which a judge may grant a divorce and, at a later time, determine the property and support rights of the parties. This procedure is used if one or both of the spouses wants to remarry, but they have not yet resolved their economic or child support issues.
divorce- The legal procedure by which a marriage is terminated. Divorce is sometimes referred to as "dissolution."
fault divorce- A system under which a spouse must prove that the other spouse was guilty of specific wrongful conduct before a divorce will be granted. Examples of fault include adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion, and incarceration for the commission of a serious crime.
irreconcilable differences- The standard basis for a divorce complaint in a no-fault divorce system; that the parties have irreconcilable differences.
legal separation- A proceeding in which the property and support rights of a husband and wife are determined by a judge, but the parties remain legally married. Legal separation can be used in place of divorce if the spouses want to live separately but do not want to get divorced because of religious reasons.
marital settlement agreement- An agreement between husband and wife that provides for division of property, support obligations, custody and visitation matters, and anything else that the parties want to resolve in their divorce. A marital settlement agreement is normally approved by the court and becomes a part of the divorce decree.
mediation- An informal and usually voluntary process in which a third party tries to get the husband and wife to resolve their differences without the need for litigation.
mediator- The individual who mediates. Often the mediator is an attorney who does not represent either husband or wife, but simply tells them what they are likely to get in a litigated matter and tries to get them to resolve their differences without going to court. If the parties agree, they will generally each take the agreement to his or her own lawyer to review it. The mediator's fees are usually shared by the parties.
no fault divorce- The system (now available in all states) in which a person is entitled to obtain a divorce without demonstrating that the other spouse is at fault.
putative spouse- A person in an invalid marriage who believes in good faith that he or she is legally married.
respondent- The opposing spouse named in the complaint filed by the petitioner.
void marriage - A marriage invalid for any purpose. For example, a marriage between brother and sister is invalid from its inception and is void. Compare Voidable Marriage.
voidable marriage- A marriage in which one or more requirements was not met, but which remains valid until a court annuls it. For example, a marriage entered into by persons younger than the legal age is voidable, but it remains a valid marriage until a court decree of annulment.
divorce lawyer- The individual selected to be the legal advocate of another in matters of divorce and family law.
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