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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Statement – A written statement to the court that you will try to resolve the issues in the divorce between you and your spouse before asking the Judge to make a decision.
Alternate payee – A spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a member or retiree who is recognized by a domestic relations order as having a right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable by a retirement system with respect to such member or retiree.
Amicus Attorney – An Attorney appointed by the court to represent the best interest of the child.
Arrearage – Money that was court ordered to be paid and is overdue and unpaid.
Attorney Ad Litem – An Attorney appointed by the court to represent the wishes of the child as he would for an adult client. The rules of confidentiality and undivided loyalty apply.
Binding Agreement – An agreement between the parties that is signed by both of them, and is often also filed with the court. It is enforceable as a contract and the Judge may decide to make the agreement enforceable as a court order.
Child Support – Money paid by a parent to help the other parent support the child.
Community Property – Property owned by either party during the marriage.
Community versus Separate Property
Community Debt – Debts that occurred during the marriage.
Collaborative Law – A method of alternative dispute resolution where all parties agree to resolve their disagreements without going to court. Each person hires his or her own attorney and everyone works together in a series of meetings to reach an agreement.
Conservatorship – A court order deciding where a child will live and the rights each parent will have to make decisions regarding the child. Also known as “custody.”
Custodial Parent (Sole or Joint Managing Conservator) – The parent who has the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child.
Decree – Also known as Final Decree of Divorce. The legal document signed by the Judge that grants the divorce and describes the specific terms of the divorce.
District Clerk – Maintains the official court records for the county. The district clerk’s office receives all court papers and keeps the divorce files.
Divorce – The legal end of the marriage relationship.
Docket Number – The number given to your case by the district clerk’s office that specifically identifies your case.
Domestic Relations Order – Any judgment, decree, or order, including approval of a property settlement agreement, which relates to the provision of child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a member or retiree, and is made pursuant to a domestic relations law, including a community property law of the State of Texas or of another state.
Dual Role Attorney – An Attorney appointed in a suit by a governmental entity to represent both the child’s wishes and the child’s best interest.
Employer’s Order to Withhold – A court order to deduct child support payments from someone’s employment wages. All child support court orders must include an Employer’s Order to Withhold.
Evidence – Proof given to the court.
Filing – Giving the district clerk your legal papers.
Guardian Ad Litem – A person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child.
High-conflict case – a suit affecting the parent-child relationship in which the parents demonstrate a pattern of going back to court, anger and distrust between each other, difficulty in communicating about and cooperating in the care of their children or other behavior that concerns the Judge. A high-conflict case may be a reason for the Judge to appoint a parent coordinator.
Insupportability – The most common reason given for a no-fault divorce.
Joint Managing Conservatorship – Also known as Joint Custody. A court order stating both parents have equal rights and duties to make decisions regarding the child.
Judge – The person who hears and makes the final legal decision in your divorce.
Managing Conservator – The parent who has the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child. Also known as Custodial Parent, Primary Conservator or Primary Joint Managing Conservator.
Marital Property Agreement – Also known as a Partition Agreement, Partition and Exchange Agreement or Postnuptial Agreement. A signed, written contractual agree- ment entered into by spouses during the marriage establishing each party’s property rights with respect to some or all of the assets and debts. Premarital and Marital Property Agreements
Mediation – A process to help the parties reach an agreement.
Mediator – A neutral person who helps the parties reach an agreement.
No Fault Divorce – The most common type of divorce, where no one needs to prove that the husband or wife caused the marriage to end.
Non-binding – A process where no specific result is forced on the parties. There is no penalty if the parties are unable to come to an agreement.
Non-custodial Parent – Also known as the Possessory Conservator. The parent that does not have the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child.
Parenting facilitator – A neutral person, who does not have an interest in the case, appointed by the court to assist parents in resolving issues relating to parenting and other family issues arising from a court order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. A Parenting Facilitator may be required to testify as to any communications they have had with the parties, as to the basis of their recommendations to the parties and as to the parties compliance with their recommendations. In addition, the Parenting coordinator may also monitor the parties compliance with court orders regarding the children.
Parenting Plan – A temporary or final court order that sets out the rights and duties of parents in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and includes provisions relating to conservatorship, possession of and access to a child, child support, and in some cases, a dispute resolution process to minimize future disputes.
Parties – The husband and wife, and anyone else who has filed a court appearance in the divorce.
Paternity – A court finding that a certain person is legally the father of the child.Petition – A legal paper that starts your divorce case and tells the court and your spouse what you want.Petitioner – The person who files for the divorce.Possession Order – Also known as “visitation” or “access.” A court order stating the specific days and times a noncustodial parent may spend time with the child.Possessory Conservator – Also known as the non-custodial parent. The parent who does not have the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child.Primary Conservator – The parent who has the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child. Also known as Custodial Parent, Managing Conservator or Primary Joint Managing Conservator.Process Server – A person approved by the court who gives official legal notice to another person by giving him/her an official copy of a court document.
Pro Se – Representing yourself without an attorney.
Psychological Evaluation – A court ordered evaluation of a person involved in the lawsuit. The evaluation is conducted by a licensed psychologist who will provide a written report to the court.
Psychiatric Evaluation – A court ordered evaluation of a person involved in the lawsuit. The evaluation is conducted by a psychiatrist who will provide a written report to the court.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) – A domestic relations order which creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a member or retiree under a public retirement system, which directs the public retirement sys- tem to disburse benefits to the alternate payee.
Respondent – The spouse of the person who filed for divorce.Retroactive Child Support – Child support that was not previously ordered, but should have been paid at a time after the child was born and the parties were separated.Return – Also called a Sheriff’s Return. An affidavit signed by a sheriff or official process server stating the date and time he provided legal notice to the other party, or the reason as to why he was unable to provide legal notice to the other party. The return is filed with the Court.Separate Property – Property that a spouse owned prior to the marriage, or property that was given to the spouse as a gift or inheritance.
Community versus Separate PropertyService – The legal method for giving your spouse a copy of the divorce petition.Settlement – An agreement reached between the parties.Social Study – A court ordered investigation of the circumstances and home life of the parents and the child. The social study is usually conducted by a social worker.
Sole Managing Conservatorship – Also known as sole custody. A court order stating one parent has more rights and duties regarding the child than the other parent.
Spousal Maintenance – Also called “spousal support” or “alimony.” Money a court requires one spouse to pay to the other spouse for support during and/or after the divorce is granted.
Standard Possession Order – A specific possession schedule designed by the Texas Legislature and found to be in the best interest of the child in most circumstances.
Temporary Orders – Court orders during the pendency of a divorce. Temporary orders may address any issues that need to be dealt with while a divorce is pending, such as custody, visitation, child support, use of property and responsibility to pay debt.
Temporary Mutual Injunction – Also known as a Mutual Injunction. A common order contained in Temporary Orders in a divorce that prohibits the parties from destroying or transferring any community property, incurring further debts, and from any type of harassment to the other party or the child.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – A common order at the beginning of a divorce that prohibits the other spouse from doing anything to transfer or destroy the property of the marriage or to cause harassment to the other spouse or the child.
Waiver of Service – A legal document, signed by the Respondent in the presence of a notary, that states he/she accepts legal notice of the Petition without an official process server or sheriff or constable giving it to him/her. The waiver of service may also have other legal consequences depending on what is stated in the waiver.