10 Legal Terms to Help You in Divorce Court

lena nguyen family law attorney divorce lawyer houston texas californiaLegal vocabulary can be daunting, and I know what it feels like to be embarrassed for not knowing what certain legal terms mean. First off, do not be embarrassed! This is not your profession! Non-attorneys rarely know what these terms even mean unless they have been part of a court case. Here are 10 terms you will likely encounter throughout your case:

Hearing – A hearing is a formal word for a court date. When issues arise in the middle of a case, either party can request a court date with the judge so he or she can resolve the issue.

Motion – A motion is a document filed with the court in which a party asks the judge to make a decision on an issue. These are issues that arise before a trial. The party filing a motion will request a court date for the judge to hear the motion. The hearing is where the judge will hear from both sides on what the issue is, and he or she will decide the outcome.

Docket – A court docket refers to all the cases a court is handling. The judge will usually “call the docket” in the morning. This means the judge will call out the cases being heard that day. This is where attorneys and anyone with a court date that day will announce that they are present. It is like an attendance call.

Petition/Complaint – A petition is also called a “complaint” in some states. It is a legal document written by one spouse, referred to as the Petitioner, that is filed with the court to begin the divorce process.

Answer – An answer is the document in which the spouse, who did not file for divorce, must file with the court. The person filing an answer will usually write whether or not they deny what was written by their spouse in the petition.

Service of Process – Once a spouse files for divorce, that spouse must serve the other spouse the divorce papers. This procedure is formally referred to as service of process.

Mediation – Once a divorce case has begun, the parties will often choose to mediate. This is where the spouses hire and agree to a third party whose job is to help the parties come to an agreement. Mediation is best thought of as a negotiation meeting.

Clerk – The clerk is an employee of the court who handles all the paperwork. This is the person you go to for documents that need to be filed or have been filed in your case. There may be more than one clerk that works for the court.

Court Coordinator – The court coordinator is an employee of the court that manages the court’s calendar. This is the person you go to for your scheduling needs.

Decree – The decree is the final official document signed by the parties and the judge. If the case went to trial, it summarizes the decision of the judge and/or jury. If the case was agreed outside of court by the spouses, it summarizes their agreement.

DISCLAIMER: The following information found on www.nextwithlena.com is provided for general informational purposes only. It may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained on this website should be construed as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This information is not intended to be a substitute for legal representation by an attorney.


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