By Robert L. Mues   |   August 15th, 2008

terms.jpgIf you find yourself involved in a divorce, custody case or other family law litigation you may run across some unfamiliar terms. Here are some common ones with a short definition:

AFFIDAVIT – Information provided under oath.  Often times pertaining to current finances, debts and assets.

BAILIFF – The judge’s assistant who helps with the court docket and often oversees the decorum in the courtroom.

CONTEMPT – An action requesting the court to punish a person for violating a prior Court order.

CONTINUANCE – A delay or postponement of a scheduled court appearance.

CPO – A “civil protection order”. An order which can be issued by the court in a domestic violence proceeding requiring a person to vacate a home and cease all contact/communication.

DEPOSITION – A form of discovery where opposing counsel gets to ask questions orally to a party or witness under oath in the presence of a court reporter before trial.

DISCOVERY – The early phase of a case where each side requests information relevant to the issues at hand. This phase may include depositions, interrogatories, production of document requests, and requests for admissions.

DV – Short for a “Domestic Violence” action.

GAL – Short for “Guardian Ad Litem”. Typically, an advocate/attorney for a child. Please click here for links to several articles on GAL’s on this blog.

GUIDELINES – Short for “child support guidelines.” Calculations made based on a statutory formula with many variables, which presents a starting point for child support determinations.

IN CAMERA – A private interview between the Judge/Magistrate and typically a child without the parents or lawyers in the room.

INTERROGATORIES – Part of the discovery phase where written questions are submitted to the opposing party for response.

MAGISTRATE – A lawyer appointed by the Judge to hear cases and make recommendations of the findings of the facts and the outcome. Virtually, the same power as the judge.

PRO SE – A party who is not represented by a lawyer is acting Pro Se.

QDRO – Short for a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order”. This is a specially drafted Court order with many technical nuances dividing a person’s retirement account.

RESTRAINING ORDER – An optional order that is typically issued at the start of a divorce proceeding to maintain the current status, avoid harassment, prohibit disposal of assets and to prohibit retaliation for the filing of the action.

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Lingo You Might Not Know From the Divorce World

2 thoughts on “Lingo You Might Not Know From the Divorce World

  • January 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I’m looking for some clarification… My father is going through a contested divorce. The final hearing was set for 2/09/2009 but now it’s been pushed back to 6/17/2009 because my mother filed, and was granted a continuance. My question is: once a date has been re-set can the judge move it up anyway? Is there anything my father can do to shorten the time between the original date and the new date – 127 days. I appreciate your insight.

  • August 19, 2009 at 1:12 am

    I’m going through a divorce right now where my estrain husband has a lawyer and has served me the paper work. We have been seperated for almost 2 years but at time of marriage he would starve me and never let me know how much money he maid… You see he is in the army and took me to Germany about 2 months after getting married and I had difficulty getting a job or school because I didn’t finish school! Either way he wants me to share pay for his lawyer when I can’t even afford one for me! Well my questions are do will I have to pay him/lawyer? And what If I still had hopes of things working out when we seperated would that affect the process??? He wants the divorce asap because he got a girl pregnant and I didn’t find out it was completely over until the begining of this year!!! I’m very stressed out and don’t know what to do or what to expect! I’m also sorry if I make no sense but it’s all overwelming and scarry I’m only going to be 22 and I never thought I would ever have the life I did and all this happening to me .

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