Petitioner- 
The person asking the court to grant a divorce. The petitioner can dismiss the case if they change their mind.

Respondent- 
The person against whom the legal action is being taken. The Respondent may or may not respond to the petition, but cannot stop the divorce against the Petitioner’s wishes.

Petition-
The document the Petitioner uses to ask the court for a divorce. In the petition, the petitioner can also ask the Court to determine how assets and liabilities are distributed, to order the Respondent to pay alimony, to establish a Parenting Plan, order child support and/or restore a former name.

Personal service-
The act of giving the Respondent the petition. The petition must be served by a deputy sheriff or a private process server.

Acceptance and Waiver of Service-
In some Florida counties, if the Petitioner and the Respondent are filing together, the Respondent may waive (and therefore, avoid) personal service with this form.

Answer-
Once served, the Respondent has 20 days to file an Answer to respond to the requests the Petitioner has made to the Court in the petition. (The form actually uses the term “allegations” instead of requests, but since Florida has been a no-fault state since 1971, I consider this term archaic.)

Counterpetition-
This document is required if the Respondent wishes to ask the Court to determine how assets and liabilities are distributed, to order the Petitioner to pay alimony, to establish a Parenting Plan, order child support and/or restore a former name. This is not required if the parties have filed a Marital Settlement Agreement.

Marital Settlement Agreement-
This document outlines the Petitioner’s and Respondent’s decisions regarding division of assets and liabilities, spousal support (alimony), child support, and references their Parenting Plan.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of divorce term definitions and documents, but some help to assist you in understanding the basics. If you have further questions, give Divorce Docs a call. We’re here to serve you.

 

CC photo courtesy of Andrew Malone via Flickr