Citation: When a respondent refuses to sign a waiver, a citation is issued giving them notice of the petition and demanding a response within 20 days.
Collaborative Divorce: Is comprised of a series of meetings with the emphasis on negotiation and mediation to arrive at an amicable settlement. If no mutual settlement can be reached the collaborative process is abandoned, the attorneys resign and the divorce process begins anew, see Ways to Get Divorced.
Contested Divorce: Should the couple be unable to agree on terms for the divorce prior to the hearing, a special court date will be arranged wherein attorneys for both sides present their case and the judge makes decisions in division of property and other issues. This is the worst case scenario, involving tremendous legal fees.
Court Order: The divorce decree is a “court order.” Failing to abide by the decree is considered “contempt of court” and is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Decree: The Judgment is summarized in a document called a Decree of Divorce. This is the official document accomplishing the divorce. A certified copy of the decree can be taken to an IRA custodian, who will divide a spouse’s IRA based on the instructions within the decree.
Discovery: Discover is the legal channel for obtaining financial records. If the spouse doesn’t voluntarily provide financial records, they can be coerced through “discovery,” and additional expense is incurred. Unethical attorneys sometimes request every statement on every account since the marriage began, creating huge legal bills and a paper nightmare.
Early Intervention Mediation: In this model of divorce, the couple first reaches a financial settlement using the services of a Divorce Financial Anylist trained in mediation. Without the tug-of-war between the attorneys, far less expense is incurred. Additionally, the couple is allowed to reach a compromise without animosity or litigation. An attorney still draws up all legal documents and appears before the judge to obtain the final divorce.
Filing: Filing is simply delivering papers to a county clerk and having them recorded in their system. An attorney is not needed to perform this task if you are striving to limit costs.
Hearing: The hearing is the “day in court” when the divorce is granted. This is normally a very brief event involving only a few words, since the settlement agreement provides the court with the required information.
Judgment: After a judge reviews the settlement agreement and petition during the hearing, a “judgment” is issued.
Mediation: By utilizing the services of a neutral third party, a couple may be able to work out differences in property settlement and other issues through mediation. This is especially valuable if an agreement cannot be reached and a court battle may result. The financial tables prepared by a divorce financial analyst can be very important to illustrate the fairness of a certain proposed settlement.
Petitioner: The petitioner is the spouse who files for divorce.
Pro Se: This is Latin meaning “for self” and is used by attorneys and courts referring to divorcing individuals who do their own divorce without the assistance of an attorney. While there are “kits” for this purpose, it is not recommended for couples with children or with complicated assets to be divided (for instance, pensions, homes, IRAs, business interests, stock options).
Property Settlement Note: A property settlement note is a promissory note wherein one spouse agrees to a series of payments to the other spouse to compensate for an otherwise inequitable property settlement. Payments are non-taxable, although interest on the note is taxable income. The property settlement note can be very useful when there is a closely held business involved.
Respondent: The respondent is the other spouse who either signs a waiver or is served a citation (thus not needing to appear in court or file papers).
Serving: Proper notice means that your spouse gets a copy of your Petition, along with the citation, giving notice of the lawsuit. A Sheriff or other officer serves the citation and petition, then files the documents with the District Clerk.
Waiver: A legal document signed by the respondent in front of a notary verifying that the case can proceed.
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