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Family Law Glossary


Absolute divorce - dissolution of a marriage.

Adoption - the process by which an adult becomes the legal parent of a child who is not his or her offspring.

Agency adoption - an adoption through a public or private agency.

Alimony - a payment made by one spouse to another for support after a divorce or separation.

Annulment - legal dissolution of marriage that treats the marriage as if it never existed.

Child custody - laws that determine who will have custody of the children following a divorce or separation.

Child support - laws that determine who will pay child support following a divorce or separation.

Divorce - the process by which a marriage is legally dissolved.

Fixed visitation - a type of visitation in which fixed dates and times for visitation by the parent without custody are set by the court.

Identified adoption - an adoption in which the adoptive parent locates a mother who would like to give up her child and then turns the adoption process over to an agency.

Independent adoption - an adoption without the help of an agency.

International adoption - the adoption of a child from a foreign country.

Joint custody - a type of child custody in which both parents have legal custody, physical custody, or both.

Legal custody - a type of child custody in which one parent has the right to make decisions about the child's upbringing.

Limited divorce - a type of divorce in which cohabitation is terminated.

Lump sum alimony - a type of alimony in which payments are made all at once.

Paternity - refers to the determination of who is the father of a child.

Permanent alimony - a type of alimony in which regular payments are made from one spouse to another after a divorce.

Physical custody - a type of child custody in which one parent has the right to have the child live with them.

Reasonable visitation - a type of visitation in which divorced parents of a child work out times and places for the parent without custody to visit with the child.

Relative adoption - adoption of a child by a person related to the child by blood or marriage.

Separation - see "limited divorce".

Sole custody - a type of child custody in which one parent has both legal and physical custody.

Supervised visitation - a type of visitation in which visitation times between parent and child must be supervised.

Temporary alimony - a type of alimony that is awarded pending a divorce or separation.

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