Glossary of Terms

What is Abandonment?

Abandonment is the action of one spouse leaving the marital home without the consent of the other spouse. In North Carolina, abandonment is considered grounds for Divorce from Bed and Board and is also a type of marital misconduct that affects the amount and duration of alimony.

What is an Absolute Divorce?

An Absolute Divorce is a declaration by a Court that the marriage has been dissolved. The parties will no longer be married to each other and are free to marry someone else.

What is Adultery?

Adultery is also known as “illicit sexual behavior” and is considered a type of marital misconduct that affects the amount and duration of alimony. North Carolina General Statutes define “Illicit sexual behavior” as “acts of sexual or deviate sexual intercourse, deviate sexual acts, or sexual acts voluntarily engaged in by a spouse with someone other than the other spouse.”

What is an Affidavit?

An affidavit is a written statement of facts that are made under oath. An affidavit must be witnessed and signed by a notary or another official authorized to administer oaths.

What is an Affidavit of Financial Standing?

An Affidavit of Financial Standing is also referred to as a “Financial Affidavit”. In Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, this is a key form in domestic cases. It is used to determine child support, post-separation support and alimony. The Affidavit consists of several sections that detail a party’s monthly income and deductions, shared family expenses (mortgage or rent, utilities, grocery expenses, car payment, etc.), individual expenses (clothing, grooming, toiletries, entertainment, etc.), and itemizes debts to include the monthly payment being made towards each debt. In addition, documents must be produced which support the figures reflected on the Affidavit.

What is an Affirmative Defense?

An affirmative defense are legal defenses that are used in response to the opposing spouse’s pleading.

What is an Alimony?

Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other as ordered by a Court or by agreement between the parties. Alimony is also called “spousal support” in some states. Alimony is deductible as an expense for the payer and charged as income to the recipient.

What is an Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a conference method, such as mediation or arbitration, that parties may use to resolve the issues in their case without a trial.

What is an Annulment?

In limited circumstances, a marriage can be dissolved in a legal proceeding in which the marriage is declared void, as though it never took place.

What does the phrase "Best Interest of the Child" mean?

The phrase “Best Interest of the Child” is discretionary legal standard that pertains to custody of and care for a child.

What are Child Support Guidelines?

Child Support Guidelines are a series of mathematical formulas that help derive the proper amount of child support that should be awarded according to the legislature in North Carolina. The Guidelines were last amended on January 1, 2011.

What is Condonation?

Condonation is forgiving one’s spouse who has committed adultery. It is generally proven by continuing acts of sexual intercourse after learning of the other spouse’s misconduct.

What is Constructive Abandonment?

Constructive Abandonment is a type of marital misconduct. It is often defined as a refusal of one spouse to engage in sexual relations with the other spouse.

What is Contempt?

Contempt is the failing of a party to follow a Court Order. Contempt can be either civil or criminal.

What is a Court Order?

A Court Order is a document issued by a Court and signed by the Judge ordering someone to do something (or to not do something). It may be file-stamped or have a seal.

What is Custody?

The terms custody and visitation are usually interchangeable. The terms refer to the legal arrangements or parenting plan in effect for a child and the method in which decisions should be made for that child. The standard for custody is what is in the “best interests” of the child.

What is Default Judgement?

A Default Judgment may be entered by the Court if a defendant fails to respond to the complaint (or lawsuit) that has been filed against him or her.

What is Depostion

A deposition is a conference between a witness or party to a lawsuit whereby questions are asked and answered under oath in the presence of a court reporter. Depositions may also be recorded by video. Depositions are part of Discovery and used to gather information in prpearation for trial. Deposition testimony is generally admissible evidence at trial.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is a trial procedure that allows a party to gather documentation and information that support or contradict claims made by either party.

What is Divisible Property?

Divisible Property refers to the passive gains or losses and increases or decreases of marital assets and marital debts from the date of the parties’ separation unitl the division of the asset or debt.

What is Divorce?

Divorce is the termination of a marriage by legal action. In North Carolina, a party may not request a Divorce until the parties have lived separate and apart for more than one year.

What is a Docket?

A Docket is the Court’s Calendar of its cases scheduled to be heard during a specific time period.

What is DOS (Date of Separation)?

DOS (Date of Separation) is the date you and your spouse stopped living together under the same roof. Legally, a date of separation does not begin when parties began living in separate bedrooms if they were still living together in the same home.

What is DOM (Date of Marriage)?

DOM (Date of Marriage) is the date you and your spouse were married as identified on the marriage certificate.

What is an Equitable Distribution Affidavit?

An Equitable Distribution Affidavit identifies all marital and non-marital assets, debts and divisible property of a party as of the date of separation and currently. Each party in a case involving claims for Equitable Distribution are required to file an Equitable Distribution Affidavit and to produce documents that support each asset and debt. Failure to file the Equitable Distribution Affidavit, and produce the documents that support it, to the opposing party by the deadline could result in sanctions.

What is an Equity?

Equity is typically a term used when dividing marital assets. In such a situation, equity is defined as the net proceeds from the sale of a home less the fees owed to the lender, commissions to the real estate agent, and other fees associated with the sale.

What is an Expert Witness?

An Expert Witness is a professional used to help the Court reach a decision. Experts are typically Appraisers, Counselors, Evaluators, Doctors, and the like.

What is a Final Pre-Trial Conference?

A Final Pre-Trial Conference is the final meeting with the Judge, the parties and their respective counsel, prior to trial. At the conference, the remaining issues to be resolved at trial are identified. In Mecklenburg County, and most surrounding counties, there is a Final Pre-Trial Conference only as it relates to claims of Equitable Distribution.

What is a Garnishment?

Garnishment is a method by which a spouse or parent pays support to the other by automatically deducting payment from his or her pay.

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