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Legal Definitions

The following terms, with definitions, are commonly used by divorce attorneys:

Affidavit
a written statement made under oath and signed before a notary

Amended
any changes made to a legal document

Case Management Conference
a short meeting with a judge, often by telephone, to speed up the progress of a case (for example, by setting shorter deadlines)

Child Support Worksheet
a calculation prepared by an attorney to determine the payor's child support obligation under Florida Statute 61.30 based upon the net monthly incomes of the parents 

Custodial party
The parent who receives custody (also known as "primary residence care")

Deponent
the person whose deposition is being taken

Deposition
a formal meeting attended by the attorneys, their clients, court reporter, and the person whose deposition is being taken. The deponent answers verbal questions under oath. A transcript of the deposition can be made and later used later at trial. The purpose of a deposition is to preserve testimony, obtain information, and/or use the answers to deposition questions to impeach the deponent when he/she later testifies at hearing or trial

Discovery
methods by which each attorney in a divorce case obtains information and/or documents (often financial documents) from the other side. There are five discovery tools - (1) mandatory disclosure, (2) depositions (verbal questions), (3) interrogatories (written questions), (4) requests for production of documents, and (5) requests for admissions (request other party to admit a list of factual statements)

Dissolution
another word for divorce

Equitable Distribution
division of marital assets and debts with a starting point of a 50/50 division.

Filing
each party, through his/her attorney, must generally file - provide the Clerk of the Circuit Court - with the original of all documents placed in the court record. A copy of the documents must be mailed to the other attorney.

Final Judgment
the "last/final order" in a divorce case - the "Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage." If the case is filed after the divorce final judgment

Financial Affidavit
an important financial document filed by each spouse in a divorce lawsuit and by each former spouse in a modification lawsuit. It includes a party's gross monthly income, monthly deductions, and net monthly income, as well as his/her monthly expenses, assets, and liabilities.

General Magistrate
an attorney who presides at hearings or trial as if he/she were a judge & make recommended Orders which are usually approved by the judge. formerly known as a General Master. both parties must agree to using a General Magistrate to hear some or all of the issues.

Hearing
a "mini-trial" at which a judge hears either side's motion (for example, motion for temporary alimony). Most hearings are held in a judge's office (known as "chambers")

Litigation
the process of attorneys contesting and pursuing a lawsuit

Mandatory Disclosure
each side is required to exchange a list of sixteen documents within 45 days after the Respondent is served with a divorce lawsuit, whether or not the other side requests this information,. There are 16 categories of mandatory disclosure - item 1 is the Financial Affidavit. Except for the requirement of filing a Financial Affidavit, the parties can waive mandatory disclosure.

Marital Settlement Agreement
a written settlement agreement resolving all or some of the case issues. This agreement is generally reached before an mediation conference

Mediation
a confidential, out-of-court attempt to settle all or some issues

Mediation Settlement Agreement
a written settlement agreement resolving all or some of the case issues. This agreement is reached during a mediation conference

Motion
an attorney's written request to a judge for any relief

Noncustodial party
the parent who receives visitation.

Nonmarital asset or debt
an asset or debt acquired during the marriage, but with money or labor from a source outside of the marriage, and which is titled only in the name of the owning the asset or debt

Parties
the Petitioner and the Respondent

Permanent
the period of time from the Final Judgment outward into the future

Petitioner
the person who files a divorce or divorce-related lawsuit

Premarital asset or debt
An asset or debt acquired before the marriage

Pretrial Conference
a 15 minute meeting with the judge shortly before trial. The judge does not hear any evidence or any testimony, but rather tries to limit the number of issues, witnesses, and proposed evidence, and determines the time required for trial, and sets the trial on the court's calendar.

Primary Residence Care
another phrase for the parent who receives custody

QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order)
A court order which directs a company to transfer all or a portion (e.g., 50%) of one spouse's interest in a pension or other financial account to the other spouse. This process avoids any tax liability and penalty of a spouse removing money from his/her pension account, for example, and paying the other party directly

quitclaim deed
a deed which does not "warrant" title, but is commonly used to transfer one spouse's interest in real property to the other spouse

Relocation
a custodial parent moving, at least, 50 miles from the residence of the non-custodial parent.

Respondent
the person/party who defends a divorce-related lawsuit

Retroactive
a specific amount of requested alimony, child support, and/or attorney fees which is stated in a divorce final judgment and which is often calculated from the date of filing the divorce lawsuit. Child support can be made retroactive to the date of the parties' separation (up to two years before the date of filing).

Secondary Residence Care
another phrase for the parent who receives visitation

Shared Parental Responsibility
a legal concept that is not directly related to custody or visitation. Florida Statute [ ] requires both parents to share in all important decisions and information regarding their child/ren (excluding day-to-day decisions)

Stipulation
a written agreement between attorneys which is usually approved by court order to avoid a hearing

Subpoena
a legal document requiring a party or non-party (third party) to attend a deposition, hearing, or trial

Subpoena Duces Tecum
a subpoena which requires a person to bring documents with them

Summons
a legal document served upon the Respondent at the beginning of a case informing him/her to file an Answer to the Petition withing 20 days or risk a default final judgment

Supplemental Petition
a Petition commonly known as a "Supplemental Petition for Modification of Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage." It is filed after the entry of the divorce final judgment to modify such matters as custody, alimony, and child support.

Temporary
the time period from the date of filing a lawsuit until the entry of the Final Judgment

Verified
a document which is signed before a notary

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