Bonus YSS: The technical terms: what’s going on here?

A lot of technical terms are tossed around during the divorce and you may be curious as to what is going on. If so, this sub post will help you with some of those questions.

However, some people may not want to know, and for good reason, some things should just be left up to the adults in the situation. If you don’t want to learn about this stuff, no sweat. Stop reading. But know that the information is here if you ever need it.

Keep in mind that divorce law is different state by state. So, if your friend is experiencing his parent’s divorce in Kentucky, those laws are likely to be different from your laws in California. But some basic words do mean the same thing:

The “Agreement” is the marital agreement or contract that settles all matters related to the divorce. These matters include the distribution of assets (property, jewelry, cars, houses, money, etc.), health and life insurance policies and the legal custody of the children. These are the very important matters that outline how the two parents will continue to support each other and take care of you.

Below is a breakdown of some of the matters involved in the Agreement.

What is custody? Custody refers to two parts. The first is physical custody, which refers to where the children will live. Some parents have joint custody so the children spend half their time with each parent. Sometimes one parents will have custody for the children and this means that the children will primarily live with that parent. This does not mean the children will not visit the other parent (see visitation below). 

The second part of custody is the legal custody which grants one parent to be the decision maker for issues such as education, health, activities, etc. Legal custody can be shared, divided or “sole” which means that one parent alone has the right to make all the decisions.

What is alimony/maintenance? Alimony is now referred to as maintenance. This is the amount of money that one parent will be paying to the other parent from the day of the divorce (or sometimes from the day of the separation) until the court chooses. Some states determine the length of maintenance support (money) to be based on a combination of the length of the marriage and the age of the children. Remember, each state is different. Also, sometimes the maintenance is paid in one lump sum.

What is Child Support? Child support is money paid from one parent to the other for expenses needed to raise the children.

What is Visitation? A schedule will be set up to outline when the children visit the parent with whom they do not primarily live. This is called a visitation schedule.

What is Equitable Distribution? This is how property is divided. This will depend on many factors including the length of the marriage, individual contributions to the assets, the sources of income and amount and the health and welfare of the people involved. Also taken into consideration is the behavior of the parents during the marriage and how likely it is for the two people to be able to work and make money to support themselves.

What is a fault divorce? What is no-fault? Some states require a reason for the divorce. This is called “fault.” Some of the reasons include cruel treatment, abandonment, adultery (cheating) and other types of misconduct. Some states do not require a fault and people can divorce without stating a reason.

What is Mediation? This is when the parents decide to have a third party help them with the divorce so they don’t have to go to court or trial. Mediation requires cooperation and communication between the two parties/people divorcing. If mediation does not work and the mediator (or all the parties involved) agree that a trial is the only option, then mediation will stop and a trial date will be set. Otherwise, the mediator helps create the Agreement, which is then signed off by the lawyers representing each parent.

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