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Collaborative Law, Collaborative Divorce

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Glossary of Terms

Alimony - Payments made to a separated or divorced spouse as required by a divorce decree or separation agreement. Also called Spousal Support or maintenance.

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Ways of making decisions and resolving disputes, other than litigation (contested hearings); includes Collaborative Practice, mediation, parenting coordination, arbitration, and neutral evaluation.

Annulment - Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage. But, unlike a divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened. For some people, divorce carries a stigma, and they would prefer to have their marriage annulled. Others prefer an annulment because it may be easier to remarry in their church if they go through an annulment rather than a divorce.  There are two types of annulment: civil annulment (by the state government) and religious annulment (by a church).

Most annulments take place after marriages of a very short duration -- a few weeks or months -- so there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation, and child support are a concern. When a long-term marriage is annulled, however, most states have provisions for dividing property and debts, as well as determining child custody, child visitation, child support, and alimony. Children of an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.

Case Management Conference - Usually the first appearance in court by the parties and their attorneys after a complaint and answer are filed.  See Divorce Process: Advance Case Review

Causes of Divorce - There are many different and complex causes and reasons for divorce, each of them specific to that particular couple`s marital relationship, their individual experiences and personal problems. None of them may seem `common` to the people going through a divorce, of course, but many of the reasons recur enough to warrant the term. Research done on the causes of divorce reveals that:

  • Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of divorce. A marriage is on the rocks when the lines of communication fail. You can`t have an effective relationship if either one of you won`t discuss your feelings, can`t talk about your mutual or personal issues, will keep your resentments simmering under wraps, and expect your partner to guess what the whole problem is about.
  • Divorces often happen because people rarely discuss their expectations in detail prior to marriage, are less willing to work on their marriages afterwards, and would like quick solutions rather than having to resolve issues. People have gotten divorced for trivial reasons like snoring.
  • People who come from divorced homes are more likely to get divorced than people who come from happily married households. Divorce seems less like a big deal if you have seen your parents go through with it.
  • People who get married between the ages of 23-27 are more likely to stay together than people who get married in their teens.
  • People who cohabit before marriage have higher rates of divorce than people who didn`t cohabit before marriage.
  • In many cases, quite a few of the problems that cause divorce have existed in the couple`s relationship long before they got married. The problems were either not acknowledged or were ignored in the fond hope that marriage might offer a miraculous panacea. And, guess what, it doesn`t. Nobody can make you feel better about yourself and you can`t change and save anybody. As someone wise once said, it takes two wholes to make a marriage, not two halves.

Child Custody - This refers to rights regarding a child. There are two different types of custody - legal custody and physical custody - and there are also different variations of custody - sole custody and joint custody. The most common form of custody is Joint Legal Custody.This is where the children live with one parent (residential custodian) while the other parent has visitation rights. With Joint Legal Custody, both parents make the decisions on behalf of the children concerning health, education, religion, and general welfare.

Child Specialist - An experienced, licensed therapist with specific education and training in the expected behaviors, stages, challenges and tasks of the development of a child. They work with the child (ren) to address specific emotional and practical day-to-day needs as they relate to the divorce process. The Child Representative also helps in designing the parenting plans that specifically address the defined needs of the child (ren) as they go through the restructuring of the family.

Child Support - A set amount of money paid by the non-custodial parent to help support their children after a divorce. The money is paid through a state agency to the custodial parent.

Child Visitation - Child visitation, often pursuant to a parenting plan, can take a variety of forms or schedules; two of the most common are reasonable visitation, which leaves it up to the parents to specify dates and times, and scheduled visitation, which is a fixed schedule. Visitation arrangements normally include some if not all of the following basic provisions:

  1. Alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent, including "three-day holidays"
  2. Mid-week visitation with the non-custodial parent
  3. Sharing of the child during periods of school recess - winter, spring and summer (often split 50-50)
  4. New Year`s Eve, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgi


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