Family Law Glossary

Family Law Glossary

Affidavit — a sworn statement of a person based upon his or her personal knowledge made under penalty of perjury and signed before a Notary Public.

Agreed Entry — a pleading that is filed with the court setting forth the agreement of the parties as to certain issues in their case. Often the parties reach agreement as to all issues in their case and the matter can proceed to a non-contested hearing and the agreed entry will become the final decree.

Alimony — see spousal support.

Annulment — an action seeking to have a marriage declared to have never legally existed.

Child Support — money paid by one parent to the other for the support of children of the parties.

Complaint — the legal pleading that initiates a divorce or legal separation case.

Contempt of Court — failure to comply with a court order by a person who is able to comply usually resulting in sanctions from the court.

Contested Hearing — a hearing at which the judge or magistrate receives evidence and testimony to enable him or her to decide disputed facts or matters between the parties.

Custodial Parent — the parent having custody of the children in a sole custody arrangement or both parents in a shared parenting arrangement.

Custody — refers to a parent’s right to have a child live with that parent and for that parent to make decisions concerning the child.

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Decree — the legal pleading ending the domestic relations case and spelling out all the terms for ending the marriage in the case of divorce or dissolution or providing for the formal legal arrangement between the parties in a legal separation action.

Defendant — the party who is served and has to respond in a contested domestic relations action such as divorce or legal separation.

Deposition — a discovery method in which testimony is given under oath in response to questions by an attorney, taken before a court reporter but not in court.

Discovery — procedures used to learn facts or compel the production of information or documents necessary to settle a case or prepare it for trial.

Divorce — a process for terminating a marriage and dealing with matters of asset and debt division, custody or minor children, support of the children, spousal support and other matters when the parties are not in initial agreement.

Dissolution — a legal process of ending a marriage when the parties agree on all issues, including grounds for terminating the marriage, custody, property and debt division, child support, and spousal support.

Distributive Award — any payment in real or personal property made from separate property or income, and not from marital property ordered by the court. These payments do not constitute payments of spousal support but may be awarded for equitable purposes.

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Emancipation — a child is considered to be emancipated, or no longer the responsibility of the parents for support, healthcare, and tax exemption purposes when the child reaches age 18 and graduates from or is no longer attending high school.

Grounds — conduct or circumstances which must be proved to entitle a person to a divorce.

Interrogatories — a discovery method in which written questions are served on the other party who is required to serve sworn written answers within a specified time.

Jurisdiction — the authority of a Court to act and make decisions regarding certain subject matter and with respect to certain persons. So long as at least one party to a marriage is a resident of the State of Ohio, the Domestic Relations Court has jurisdiction over the marriage and can make all appropriate orders with respect to termination of the marriage.

Legal Separation — a legal process for obtaining a court order arranging the terms under which the parties will live separate and apart from one another. While formalizing the relationship between the parties and the conditions for their separation, it does not formally terminate the marriage or permit the parties legally to marry other persons.

Mediation — A non-adversarial process in which two or more parties work through discussion and compromise toward agreement with the aid of a neutral party, or mediator. The mediator may be a private individual hired by the parties or it may be a member of the domestic relations court’s staff.

Non-Contested Hearing — a hearing in which there are no facts or matters in controversy and, therefore, no adversarial matters for the Court to decide.

Plaintiff — the party who initiates a contested domestic relations action such as divorce or legal separation.

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QDRO — a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is an order entered by a Domestic Relations Court that provides for the division of retirement and pension assets without resulting in tax consequences or penalties to the parties.

Quit Claim Deed — a document filed with the county recorder relinquishing a claim or interest in real property. Generally filed by one spouse to release an interest in marital property, whether or not jointly titled.

Request for the Production of Documents — a discovery method in which written list of documents is served on the other party who is required to produce the listed documents for inspection and copying within a specified time.

Residency — in order for a person to bring an action in the State of Ohio to terminate or alter a marital relationship or provide for the parenting and support of children, the person must have been a resident of the State of Ohio for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.

Resident — See residency.

Residential Parent — generally the parent with whom the children spend most of their time or from whose residence the school district is determined.

Separation Agreement — an agreement between the parties as to all the terms for their continuing relationship in the case of legal separation or for the termination of their marriage in the case of a dissolution.

Shared Parenting — a custody arrangement for the parenting of children where both parents are named as residential parent (one generally being the residential parent for school purposes) and legal custodians of the children and jointly make decisions regarding the children’s schooling, religion, education, health care, etc.

Shared Parenting Plan — a plan proposed by one or the other party or by both parties jointly, providing for all aspects of the parenting of the parties’ children by the parties.

Sole Custody — a custody arrangement for the parenting of children where one parent is named as residential parent and legal custodian and makes decisions regarding the children’s schooling, religion, education, health care, etc.

Spousal Support — payments made to support a current or former spouse the amount and duration of spousal support is fact-specific to each case.

Subpoena — a court order served on a party or a witness commanding appearance at a certain time and place. A subpoena duces tecum is a command to produce documents, papers, or other things listed in the subpoena.

Temporary Orders — orders that are entered at the beginning of a domestic relations case providing for the protection of the parties, maintenance of the status quo, or payment or support. These orders are subject to change throughout the course of the case and do not necessarily have any effect on the final decree in the case.

Venue — the county in which a case can be initiated. A person must must have lived in the county in which the case is filed for at least 90 days preceding the filing of the complaint.

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