A.D.R: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Settlement techniques used to resolve a case without a trial

Action: the legal term for lawsuit

Affidavit: A written statement of facts made under oath and signed before a notary public

Age of Majority: The age is 19 years in Newfoundland and Labrador. The age of majority legal age when a person ceases to be considered a minor.

Agreement: A transcribed: A transcript or written resolution of the disputed issues when the parties have resolved issues in the case. Sometimes called Stipulation.

Alimony pendent lite: A temporary order of court that provides support for one spouse and/or children while the divorce is in progress.

Alimony: Payment of support from one party to another; in some states may include property division and attorney’s fees. See also Maintenance.

Allegation: Statement contained in a pleading or affidavit setting forth what the pleader intends to prove.

Annulment: The legal ending of an invalid marriage; according to law; neither party was ever married, but all children born of the annulled marriage remain legitimate vary from state to state.

Answer: The second pleading in a divorce, separation, or annulment, which is served in response to the petition for divorce ad which admits or denies the petitions allegations and may also make claims against the other party, Sometimes called a Response

Appeal: The process whereby a higher court reviews the proceedings resulting in an order or judgment of a lower court and determines whether there was reversible error.

Application: Filing an application is a way of asking the Court to make an order. An application states what type of order the person is seeking.

Best Interests of the Child: The test that a Court uses to make decisions about custody and access. The children’s needs and well-being are always the most important factors. The judge must decide what is best for the children, not what is best for neither parents.

Case Law: Judges decisions previous cases that are used as precedent.

Case Management Meeting: An informal meeting between a judge, and parties or their counsel and to potentially resolve issues related to the management of Court proceedings with a view to achieving the following purposes; (a) ensuring the maximum benefit is gained from each trial day; (b) making more efficient use of Court resources; (c) ensuring adequate and accurate amounts of time are reserved for trial; and (d) providing for the public interest in access to justice in a timely and cost effective matter.

Chambers: A process for a judge to hear applications for some Court orders. Chambers is always held in a Courtroom, and several applications may be held in any session.

Change of venue: A change of the place within the state where the case is to be tried.

Child Support Guidelines: Rules for calculating how much child support a parent will have to pay. The guidelines include support tables for each province and territory, as well as rules for calculating special or extraordinary expenses, claims of undue hardship, and child support amounts in cases of split or shared custody.

Child Support: Financial support for a child (not taxable to the recipient or deductible to the payer spouse).

Common Law Relationship: Two people are considered to be in a common law relationship when they live together in a conjugal (married-like) relationship without having been legally married.

Commonlaw marriage: A relationship between a man and a woman, recognized as a marriage in some states, although no license or ceremony was involved. A divorce is required to terminate a common-law marriage.

Community Property: Generally, property acquired during a marriage as a result of the parties’ work and effort. Applied in states known as community-property.

Contempt of courts: The willful and intentional failure to comply with a court order, judgment or decree by a party to the action, which may be punishable in a variety of ways.

Contested order: A written document issued by a court, which becomes effective only when signed by a judge.

Contract: A written or oral agreement that is legally binding.

Costs: A judge may choose to order costs at the end of the trial. “Costs” refers to money to be paid by one side if there is a contested hearing or trial between the parties. Costs are intended to help compensate the successful party for his/her legal expenses as a result of being in Court. Costs may also be ordered against a person who fails to follow the Court’s directions or instructions before or during a trial.

Court Order: A decision by a Judge which must be followed by the parties.

CrossExamination:The questioning of a witness by the opposing party during a trial or at a deposition, to test the truth of that testimony or to develop it.

Custodial Parent: The parent with whom the children live is known as the “custodial” or the “residential” parent. The other parent is the “non-custodial” or “non-residential” parent.

Custody: The legal right and responsibility awarded by a court for the care, possession, and rearing of a child. Distinctions are sometimes made between legal custody, which relates to decision making responsibility, and physical custody, which relates to residence or physical access.

Default or default judgment: An order or judgment granted by a court without hearing the other side because that side failed to submit papers within the time allowed or failed to appear at a hearing.

Defendant (respondent): The person (husband or wife) who is sued for divorce.

Deposition: The testimony of a witness taken out of court under oath and in writing.

Direct examination: The initial questioning in a court of a witness the lawyer who called him or her to the stand.

Disclosure, discover, or production of documents: Procedures followed by lawyers to determine the nature, scope, and credibility of the opposing party’s claim and his or her financial status.

Dissolution: The act of terminating a marriage; divorce; does not include annulment.

Emancipation: The point at which a child may be treated as an adult and in some states when the duty to support may terminate.

Equitable distribution of property: A system of distributing property in connection with a divorce or dissolution proceeding on the basis of a verity of factors without regard to who holds title.

Evidence: Documents, testimony, or other demonstrative material offered to the court to prove or disapprove allegations.

Ex Parte: An application made without the other part- being present. In some sates the other party is present but has been given very short notice of the application.

Exhibit: A paper, document or piece of physical evidence provided to the Court at a trial or hearing or as a part of an affidavit.

Grounds: In the eye of the law (under statue), the reason for granting a divorce.

Guardian ad litem (GAL):  A lawyer or mental health professional appointed by the court to represent the children.

Hearings: Any proceedings before the court for the purpose of resolving disputed issues through presentation of testimony, offers, of proof, and argument.

Hold-harmless: A situation in which one spouse assumes for a debt or other obligation and promises to protect the other spouse from any loss or expense in connection with it.

 Indemnification: The promise to reimburse another person in case of an anticipated loss; the same as hold-harmless.

Interim Order: A temporary order dealing with some matters until the final decision of the Court. An interim order may also be referred to as an Interlocutory Order. 

Interrogatories: A series of written questions served on the opposing party to discover certain facts regarding the disputed issues in matrimonial proceeding. The answer to interrogatories must be under oath and served within a prescribed time. 

Joint Custody: The shared right and responsibility of both parents awarded by the court for possession, care, and rearing for the children.

Joint Property: Property held in the name of more than one person.

Jurisdiction: The authority of the court to rule on issues relating to the parties, their children, or their property.

Leave the Court: The Court’s permission to proceed with certain types of applications.

Legal Separation: A court judgment or written agreement directing or authorizing spouses to live separate and apart. A decree of separation does not dissolve the marriage or allow the parties to remarry, but may resolve all financial claims.

Litigation: Legal Action

Maintenance: Spousal support, see also alimony.

Marital property: Accumulated income and property acquired by spouses, subject to certain exclusions in some states.

Marital Settlement Agreement: The parties’ settlement is reduced to a written document or orally placed on the record in open court. This agreement also may be called a property settlement agreement or separation agreement.

Mediation: A process by which a neutral third party facilitates negotiates between the parties. The mediator generally has no decision-making attorney’s or expert’s fees.

Motion to modify: A party’s formal written request to the court to change prior order regarding custody, child support, alimony, or any other order that the court may change by law.

Motion to vacate the premises: Upon a showing of good cause by one party, the court orders the other spouse to leave the marital residence.

Motion: A written application to the court for some particular relief, such as temporary support, injunction, or attorney’s expert fees.

Nofault divorce: When divorce is granted without a party having to prove the other party’s marital misconduct. “Fault” is marital misconduct that may be considered for some issues in some states.

Notice of hearing: A paper that is on the opposing lawyer or spouse listing the date and place of a hearing and the motion or motions that will be heard by the court.

Order: The court’s ruling on a motion requiring the parties to do certain things or setting forth their rights and responsibilities. An order is reduced to writing, signed by the judge, and filed with the court.

Parenting Plan: A plan developed by a parent for the day-to-day care visiting or access arrangements for the children when the parties are no longer living together.

Parties: the person or people on one side of a dispute or an agreement. Parties are the people who have the right to appear in Court and to seek an order from the Court (see also applicant, respondent).

Party: The person in a divorce action whose rights or interest will be affected by the divorce.

Payee: The person who receives child and/or spousal support or maintenance.

Payor: the person who pays child support and/or spousal support

Petition (compliant): The first pleading in an action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment, setting forth the allegations on which the requested relief is based.

Petitioner (plaintiff): The party who files the petition for divorce or any other petition.

Plaintiff: the petitioner

Pleading: Formal written application to the court for relief and the written response to it. Pleadings include petitions, answers, counterclaims, replies, and motions.

Privileges: The right of a person to make statements to his or her spouse or lawyer, member of the clergy, psychiatrist, doctor, or certified social worker that are not later admissible.

Pro se: A litigant who is not represented by a lawyer (also “pro per”)

Reliefs: Whatever a party to a divorce proceedings asks the court to do; dissolve the marriage, award support, enforce a prior court order or decree, divide property, enjoin certain behavior, dismiss the complaint of the other party, and so on.

Reply: The pleading filed in answer to the allegations of a counterclaim.

Report or referee with notes: The written document prepared by a referee or court-appointed officer after a hearing a submitted to the parties (husband and wife) and the judge, it is not law and not final or an order of the court, but it is recommended to become an order of the court.

Request for production of documents: A series of written requests served on the other party seeking the production of documents such as financial records. Responses must be provided within a fixed time.

Respondent (defendant): This one who defends the divorce proceeding brought by another.

Rules of evidence: The rules that govern the presentation and admissibility of oral and documentary evidence at court hearings or depositions.

Separate Property: Property that is not “marital property” but belongs only to one spouse.

Service: The delivery of Court documents to the required person, usually

Set off: A debt or financial obligations of one spouse that is deducted from the debt or financial obligation of the other spouse.

Settlement: The agreed resolution of disputed issues.

Show Cause: Written application to the court for some type of relief, which is made on such notice to the other party as the court directs

Stipulation: An agreement between the parties or their counsel.

Subpoena: A document served on a party or witness requiring appearance in court. Failure to comply with the subpoena could result in punishment by the court. A subpoena duces-tecum a subpoena requesting documents.

Summons: A written notification that legal action has commenced requiring a response within a specified time period.

Temporary or pendente lite motions: Applications to the courts for interim relief pending the final decree of divorce, separation, or annulment. Typical temporary motions include motions for temporary maintenance, child support, attorney’s fees, costs, expert fees, custody, visitation, enforcement, or modification of prior temporary orders, or requests for exclusive possession. The court enters a pendent lite order after determining a motion.

Temporary restraining orders (TRO): An order of the court prohibiting a party from doing something for example, threatening, harassing, or heating the other spouse or the children, selling personal property, withdrawing money from account, denying access to a motor vehicle.

Testimony: Statements under oath by a witness in a court or during a deposition.

Transcript: A typewritten record of testimony taken by a court or during a deposition.

Trial: A formal court hearing to decide disputed issues raised by the pleadings. 

Uncontested divorce: A divorce proceeding in which the parties have reached an agreement on all issues.