Family Law Glossary
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.