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Divorce Law Glossary


Absolute divorce – a divorce in which the marriage is completely dissolved and both parties become single.

Alimony – a payment made by one spouse to another pending divorce or separation.

Alimony in gross – alimony payments paid in one lump sum.

Annulment – the legal dissolution of a marriage. In an annulment, the marriage is treated as though it never existed.

Child custody – a term that refers to the custody of children after a divorce.

Child support – a term that refers to payment by one spouse to the other for the upbringing of their children.

Custodial parent – the parent who has physical custody of the children.

Divorce – the legal dissolution of a marriage.

Fixed visitation – a form of visitation in which the court orders fixed dates, times, and duration of visitation for the non-custodial parent.

Joint custody – a form of child custody that grants both parents joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

Legal custody – a form of child custody that grants one parent the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Limited divorce – the termination of cohabitation, also known as a separation.

Lump sum alimony – see “alimony in gross.”

Non-custodial parent – the parent who does not have physical custody of the children.

Paternity – the determination of who the father of a child is in order to arrange child custody and child support in the event of a divorce.

Permanent alimony – a type of alimony that is paid in regular intervals. Permanent alimony may change or be terminated upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony payments.

Physical custody – a form of child custody that grants one parent the right to live with the child.

Reasonable visitation – a form of visitation in which the parents work out a schedule of visitation for the non-custodial parent.

Separation – see “limited divorce.”

Sole custody – a form of child custody that grants one parent the right to legal and physical custody.

Supervised visitation – a form of visitation in which an adult supervisor must be present when the child is visiting with the non-custodial parent.

Temporary alimony – a type of alimony payment that is made to one spouse pending separation or divorce proceedings.

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