Glossary of Divorce Terms
Separate Property: Any real and personal property acquired before marriage and during premarital cohabitation is considered separate property, even if separate funds are deposited into a joint bank account, its status will remain separate.
Separation: Living separate and apart with at least one spouse intending that separation to be permanent. Having separate address qualifies as separation, separate bedrooms, or one spouse sleeping on a couch does not qualify as separation.
Separation Agreement: A binding contract that defines the terms of the separation of husband and wife. Certain prerequisites exist: separation must occur before or immediately follow execution of the agreement; the agreement must be reasonable and fair to both spouses with respect to the circumstances and conditions at the time of the agreement; and the agreement must be in writing and duly notarized.
Settlement Conference: A meeting between the spouses and their attorneys in an attempt to settle a divorce case before trial. Frequently ordered by the court.
Sole Custody: One parent, or entity, is granted both legal and physical custody of a minor child. Meaning possession and most, if not all, decision making authority.
Split Custody: A situation in which both parents share legal and physical custody of a minor child through agreed upon scheduling for residence and schooling.
Spousal Support or Maintenance: Payment for support and maintenance of a spouse or former spouse that is ordered by the court or agreed upon by two spouses during an action for a divorce.
Stipulation: An agreement between divorcing spouses that settles disputes between them and is usually entered into the Divorce Decree.
Summons: This form serves as formal notice that a civil lawsuit has been instituted. It is attached to the complaint and verifies service when a sheriff’s office is used.