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Glossary of Terms - Divorce

Affidavit :

An affidavit is a notarized written statement made to the court swearing that the information contained in the filed papers is true.

Alimony :

Alimony, or spousal support, is money paid by one spouse to another after a divorce to help with living expenses outside of child support.

Answer :

An Answer is a written response that explains why the defendant thinks they do not owe the money to the plaintiff in a court case.

Appeal :

An appeal is a written request asking a higher court to look at the decision of the judge and change that judge’s decision.

Arrears :

The word arrears means unpaid or overdue child support, alimony or spousal support payments.

Caption :

The caption is how the parties’ names were written in the original papers filed for your divorce. If you were the plaintiff or defendant, you are still the plaintiff or defendant for all subsequent filings.

Cause of Action: :

The cause of action is the grounds for the divorce such as irreconcilable differences, separation, or extreme cruelty.

Certification :

A certification is a written statement made to the court when you file papers, swearing that the information contained in the filed papers is true.

Child Support: :

Child support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help support their children.

Complaint :

complaint is a document filed with the court by the plaintiff that is the start of a court case.

Cross-motion :

cross-motion is filed by a defendant to add a new claim against the plaintiff in a court case.

Default Judgment :

The plaintiff can request a default judgment in their favor if the defendant receives the complaint and fails to respond in the time allowed.

Defendant :

The defendant is the person or business against whom a case is filed.

Discovery :

After a case is filed, but before it is heard in court, all of the parties must share with each other the documents and information they plan to introduce in court. This is called discovery.

Dissolution :

Dissolution refers to the legal ending of a marriage, civil union or domestic partnership.

Exhibits :

Exhibits are papers and information you provide to support what is in your motion.

File :

To file means to give the correct forms and fee to the court to begin the court’s consideration of your request.

Irreconcilable differences :

This is the term used in New Jersey for a no-fault divorce. It applies to divorcing couples who have lived in New Jersey for at least 12 months before the divorce is filed. The basis of the divorce is that the couple is certain there is no way for them to reconcile.

Motion :

A motion is a written request in which you ask the court to issue an order, change an order it has already issued, enforce an order it has already issued, or ask the court to take some other action related to your case.

Order :

An order is a signed paper from the judge telling someone they must do something.

Party :

A party is a person, business or governmental agency involved in a court action.

Personal Identifier :

A personal identifier is any personal information that is unique to an individual, including Social Security number, military status, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance policy number, active bank account and credit card numbers. This information could be used to steal someone’s identity or their money. All documents filed with the court are available for public inspection. Therefore no personal identifiers should be included on documents filed with the court

Plaintiff :

The plaintiff is the party who starts the lawsuit.

Pro Se :

The term pro se means that you are representing yourself in court without a lawyer.

Redact :

To redact is to remove or to hide parts of a written document.

Relief :

To ask for relief is to ask the court for something.