If you are considering or have filed for divorce, or if you anticipate being served with a divorce complaint, you’ll start hearing many terms with which you may not be familiar. Here are some legal terms that you should learn, so that you can meaningfully participate in the proceedings
If your divorce is contested in any way—custody, visitation, child support or division of marital debts and assets—the court will most likely identify the length of the “discovery” period, and set some rules governing discovery. “Discovery” is simply the term that lawyers and judges use for gathering evidence. In the American judicial system, we have the concept of “open discovery.” That means that both sides are entitled to access to all evidence related to the case—one party cannot intentionally hide or fail to disclose relevant evidence. If that happens, there’s a significant chance that the court will rule the evidence to be inadmissible.
Equitable distribution refers to a method for allocating the debts and assets of a marriage. For states that follow equitable distribution principles, property and liabilities are divided equitably, or “fairly.” It’s important to understand that “equitable” does not mean “equal.” The court may consider a wide range of factors. For example, in Pennsylvania, the court can examine, among other factor:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health of both parties
- The earning power and sources of income of both parties
Spousal maintenance is just another term for alimony. It can also be referred to as “spousal support.” Though alimony or spousal maintenance is not as common as it used to be, it is still used in specific situations, including where a spouse may lack the skills to be gainfully employed, or may need time to develop those skills or get the requisite education or training.
At the office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, we have more than 25 years of family law experience. We’ll help you stay focused on what matters. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.