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Divorce Dictionary

ABANDONMENT

the term used to describe the action of one spouse leaving the marital home without consent. This action is deemed as grounds for divorce in some states or provinces..

ACCRUE

to propagate or build upon.

ACTION

the legal term for what is generally referred to as a lawsuit.

ADMISSIBLE

any form of testimony or evidence that is allowed into court.

ADULTERY

when one spouse has sexual intercourse with a third party. In some states and provinces this is considered grounds for divorce.

ADVERSARIAL DIVORCE

a divorce where the spouses are unable to come to any agreement and the court must decide the issues and make a ruling.

AFFIDAVIT

a written statement of facts that are made under oath and which must be witnessed and signed by a notary or another official authorized to administer oaths.

AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE

new facts or legal defenses in response to the opposing spouse's pleading.

AGREEMENT

a verbal or written resolution of disputes.

ALIMONY

financial support paid to one spouse from the other. May be paid in one lump sum or in installments. It can be temporary or permanent.

ALLEGATIONS

the claims that are made against the other spouse in the lawsuit (action).

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)

specific methods, including mediation, arbitration and collaborative law, with which couples can obtain a divorce settlement without a trial.

ANNULMENT

a legal action or lawsuit which may result in a finding that the marriage was void or is voidable; as if it never took place.

ANSWER

the formal response for a divorce, separation or annulment petition. The response or answer contains the admission or denial of the allegations made by the petitioner or against the petitioner.

ANTENUPTIAL AGREEMENT

a legal contract signed by two people prior to marriage which states limitations to spouse's rights to property, support, or inheritance if the marriage ends in divorce. Also known as PRENUPTUAL AGREEMENT.

APPEAL

a legal procedure in which the losing party of a divorce requests that a higher court review the trial court's decision.

APPEARANCE

a formal submission to the courts by the defendant (respondent) in response to the a complaint or summons.

APPELLANT

the individual who brings the appeal.

APPELLATE COURT

the court in which a appeal is heard.

APPORTION

to divide and assign according to a definite rule. The division is not necessarily equal but is fair according to the respective interests of the parties involved.

APPRAISAL

the procedure for determining the fair market value of an asset for equitable distribution in divorce.

APPRAISAL REPORT

a report of the results of an appraisal which begins with the definition of an appraisal problem and leads to a specific conclusion using reasoning and relevant descriptive data.

ARBITRATION

a legally binding, but not a judicial procedure. When a neutral third party makes judgment on a case. Arbitration is not allowed in divorce actions in Illinois.

ARREARAGE

a term used to describe unpaid amounts of child support or alimony.

ASSETS

cash, property or any other thing of value.

ATTACHMENT

the process by which the court seizes the property of a debtor.

AUTOMATIC WAGE DEDUCTION

a court ordered child support system in which the non-custodial parent has the support amount deducted directly from his or her paycheck which is then distributed by the employer.

AWARD

a decision made by a court to compensate a person for something.

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