Common Legal Words in Texas Divorce Cases

Key Terms Used in Divorce

Getting a divorce is the last thing spouses think of when they say their “I dos”, but unfortunately, it can become a reality for many couples in the US. The divorce process is full of complexities and confusion, making it essential to prepare for it as best you can. Our Fort Worth divorce attorneys are here to equip you with the knowledge you need to best navigate your divorce, although we welcome you to contact us if you have any questions.

You may not come across every term below, as they do not account for each individual divorce case. However, you could benefit from familiarizing yourself with the following words that are commonly used in Texas divorces:

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Statement: A written statement to the court that you will try to resolve the issues in the divorce between you and your spouse before asking the judge to make a decision.

Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs: A sworn statement of your income, assets and expenses.

Arrearage: Overdue and unpaid court-ordered money payments.

Binding Agreement: A signed agreement between the parties that is enforceable as a contract and potentially a court order.

Child Support: Money that one parent pays to help the other parent support their child

Collaborative Law: A method of ADR where all parties opt to resolve their disagreements without going to court. It involves working together via meetings to reach an agreement.

Community Debt: Debts that occurred during the marriage

Community Property: Property owned by either party during the marriage

Conservatorship: Also known as custody, this is a court order that determines a child’s primary residence and each parent’s decision-making rights.

Custodial Parent (Sole or Joint Managing Conservator): The parent who has the legal right to determine the primary residence of the child.

Divorce Decree: Also known as Final Decree of Divorce, it is a legal document that grants a divorce and outlines the terms of the divorce.

Domestic Relations Order: A document that includes approval of a property settlement agreement concerning child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependents of a member or retiree.

Guardian Ad Litem: A court-appointed person who represents the best interests of a child.

Joint Managing Conservatorship: Also known as joint custody. A court order stating both parents have equal rights and duties to make decisions regarding the child.

Managing Conservator: Also known as a custodial parent, primary conservator or primary joint managing conservator, this parent has the right to determine the primary residence of the child

Marital Property Agreement – Also known as a Partition Agreement, Partition and Exchange Agreement or Postnuptial Agreement, it is an agreement that establishes each party’s property rights in relation to some or all of their assets and debts.

Mediation: A process to help the parties reach an agreement without going to court.

No-Fault Divorce: The most common type of divorce that doesn’t require spouses to prove that the other caused the marriage to end.

Non-Custodial Parent: Also known as the possessory conservator, this parent does not have the right to determine the primary residence of the child.

Parenting Plan: A temporary or final court order that outlines the rights and duties of parents in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and includes provisions on conservatorship, possession of and access to a child, child support, and sometimes, a dispute resolution process.

Petitioner: The person who files for the divorce.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO): A domestic relations order that creates or recognizes a former spouse’s right to receive all or a portion of the other spouse’s preset retirement plan assets.

Respondent: The spouse of the person who filed for divorce.

Separate Property: Property that a spouse owned, or got as a gift or inheritance before the marriage.

Sole Managing Conservatorship: Also known as sole custody, it is a court order stating one parent has more rights and duties to the child than the other parent.

Spousal Maintenance: Also called spousal support or alimony, it is court-ordered payments that one spouse pays to the other during and/or after divorce.

Temporary Orders: Court orders that address any pressing issues while a divorce is pending, such as custody, visitation, child support, use of property and responsibility to pay debts.

Waiver of Service: A legal document that states the respondent accepts the petition without an official process server or sheriff or constable giving it to them. The waiver of service may also have other legal consequences depending on what is stated in it.

Now that you are a little more familiar with these key Texas divorce terms, you are ready to begin the process with the help of our Fort Worth divorce lawyers. We understand that you might have questions regarding these terms, and luckily, we have answers. Contact us at (817) 435-4970 to learn how we can bring you the peace of mind you deserve.


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