Divorce and Family Law Terminology

Going through a divorce or custody battle is often emotionally and financially difficult. Dealing with the court system can add to that difficulty when judges, lawyers and court staff may use terminology that sounds like a foreign language to many, especially if they have never had to deal with the courts before.

Adding even more confusion and difficulty is the fact that each court system has its own set of terms that vary from state to state and even from county to county within the same state. For instance, in New Mexico, there are thirteen judicial districts and each judicial district has its own set of local rules that may create rules and even terminology that only apply to proceedings in that district.

However, there are some basic legal terms that should be recognized in most judicial districts.  The sections below will explain the basic terminology and pleadings (documents filed with the court) for various stages and components of the divorce process.

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