Family Law Acronyms: Part 1

There are many terms that are thrown around when dealing with a family law case.  Some of the terms may be recognizable, while others may be confusing.  Below are some commonly used words and definitions to help our clients gain a better understanding of family law:

Alternative Dispute Resolution:  Different methods of resolving legal disputes without going to trial.  Examples are mediation and arbitration.

Annulment:  This is a declaration by the court that the marriage is invalid.

Burden of Proof:  producing enough evidence in support of a fact or issue and persuading the trier of fact in your favor.

Trier of Fact:  The trier of fact is the one who will decide the outcome of the case, generally the judge or the jury.

Equitable Distribution:  the process of distributing marital property in accordance with statutory guidelines.  This does not always result in an equal split of the property, but rather, a fair split of the property.

Petitioner:  The individual who has filed the claim.

Respondent:  The individual whom the claim is filed against.

Garnishment:  this is a remedy used by a creditor, or someone who is owed the money, to have property of the owing party or money of the owing party that is in the possession of a third party.  For example, the paychecks of the owing party may be garnished by the one who is owed the money.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order:  An order issued by the court dividing retirement benefits.

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