FAMILY LAW

Alimony

Financial payments made to help support a spouse or former spouse during separation or following divorce. Also called spousal support or spousal maintenance.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Methods of resolving legal disputes without going to trial, in a less adversarial manner, such as through arbitration or mediation.

Arrearage

The amount of money that is past due for child or spousal support.

Child support

Money that a non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent for their child(ren)’s support.

Child support guidelines

Guidelines established by statute or rule in each jurisdiction that set forth the manner in which child support must be calculated, generally based on the income of the parents and the needs of the children.

Custody

Having rights to your child. Custody can be either legal, which means that you have the right to make important decisions about your child’s welfare, or physical, which means that the child lives with and is raised by you.

Decree

The court’s written order or decision finalizing the divorce, often issued in conjunction with the court’s judgment.

Default

Failing to answer a petition or complaint for divorce. Failing to file an answer or appear in court as required can result in the court awarding everything requested by the filing spouse.

Defendant

The person against whom legal papers are filed, also sometimes referred to as the respondent.

Deposition

Part of the discovery or information-exchanging process of a legal proceeding, in which the attorney for the other party asks you questions, you answer with your attorney present, and a transcript of the proceedings is prepared.

Discovery

The informa