– A –

Absolute Divorce: Marriage is dissolved and all issues arising out of the marriage are addressed including custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and the disposition of real and personal property.

Adultery: Sexual relations with a person other than your spouse which occurs during the period between the date of marriage and the date of divorce.

Alimony: Financial support paid by one spouse to the other spouse.

Appeal: When a dissatisfied party seeks a review the trial Court’s decision by the Court of Special Appeals or the Court of Appeals.

– C –

Child Support: THE CHILD’S right to financial support from his or her parents.

– D –

Deposition: During litigation, one party takes testimony from the other party or a witness outside of court but in the presence of a court reporter for the purpose of gathering information and/or documentary evidence.

Defendant: The party who has had litigation initiated against him or her. Defendant’s name appears below or to the right of the “v” in the case name.

Discovery: Method by which one party in litigation seeks information and documentary evidence from the other party. For example, Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents, and Depositions.

– F –

Flat Fee: When an attorney agrees to represent you for a one-time fee in a stated amount. For example, an attorney may agree to represent you for an uncontested divorce for a flat fee of $1000.00.

– H –

Hourly Fee: An attorney will represent you based on the amount of time he or she spends working on your case. For example, $200 per hour.

– I –

Indefinite Alimony: Alimony paid until death or remarriage of the receiving spouse or death of the paying spouse.

Interrogatories: Written questions forwarded to the other party in litigation for the purpose of gathering information.

– J –

Jurisdiction: The State whose Courts may hear a case.

– L –

Legal Custody: Power to make major decisions (health, religion, and education) regarding the child.

Limited Divorce: Parties remain married but reside separately and only the issues of custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and use and possession of the family home or family use personal property may be addressed.

Litigation: A party seeks relief (i.e. a divorce, custody, child support, alimony, etc.) from the Court.

– M –

Marital Property: Real or Personal Property which was acquired during the period between the date of marriage and the date of divorce, except property acquired by one spouse by virtue of gift or inheritance.

Marital Settlement Agreement: See Separation Agreement.

Mediation: Both parties meet with a specially trained third party in an effort to reach an agreement.

Merits Trial: Appearance before the Court where testimony and evidence is taken and the Court renders a final decision.

– N –

No-Fault Divorce: Absolute divorce based on the grounds of mutual and voluntary separation for at least one year OR separation for at least two years.

Non-Marital Property: Real or Personal property acquired by one spouse 1) prior to the date of marriage; 2) by virtue of a gift; or 3) by virtue of inheritance.

– P –

Pendente Lite: Temporary relief while an action is pending. May include custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and use and possession of family home and/or family use personal property.

Pendente Lite Alimony: Temporary alimony paid while the divorce is pending.

Personal Property: Furnishings, bank accounts, financial investments, life insurance, retirement plans, vehicles, tractors, pets, jewelry, etc.

Petitioner: See Plaintiff.

Physical Custody: Refers to which parent with whom the child resides.

Plaintiff: The party who initiates litigation. Plaintiff’s name appears above or to the left of the “v” in the case name.

Pre-Trial Conference/Settlement Conference: Appearance before the Court to ensure that the case is ready for trial and to offer an opportunity to settle the case prior to trial.

– R –

Real Property: Land, houses, equity in land and houses.

Rehabilitative Alimony: Alimony paid for a specified amount of time.

Respondent: See Defendant.

Request for Production of Documents: Written requests forwarded to the other party in litigation seeking documentary evidence.

Retainer: An amount of funds required by an attorney to work on a case for an hourly fee. The funds are held in trust by the attorney until the attorney has earned the fees, usually the end of each billing cycle.

– S –

Scheduling Conference: An organizational appearance before the court to ensure that the case is proceeding properly through the court system and has been assigned the appropriate services.

Separation Agreement: Written, signed, notarized document which contains an agreement between the parties regarding custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and the disposition of real and personal property.

– U –

Uncontested Divorce: Divorce when the parties have mutually and voluntarily lived under separate roofs for at least one year AND 1) there are no issues pertaining to custody, visitation, child support, alimony, disposition of property OR 2) there is a signed, notarized Separation Agreement in place.

– V –

Venue: The county whose court may hear a case.