Family Law Glossary

Family Law Glossary

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Maintenance and Spousal Support

These are the legal terms that are commonly used for payments that are made by one spouse to another. The payments are usually made every month. The payments can be a temporary arrangement during the divorce proceedings, and can later evolve into permanent obligations. A family lawyer can help set these up.


This term typically refers to the amount of money that one parent, typically the non-custodial parent, has to pay the other parent. Child support payments are meant to support the expenses of raising a child. In Indiana, child-support payments are made based on child-support guidelines that help calculate the amount of the payment.

Physical/Legal Custody/Visitation

These are the terms are often used to refer to the amount of time the children spends with each parent. Physical custody may differ from legal custody. For instance, one parent may have custody of the child only on weekends, and may be able to visit the child only on weekends, but may have equal legal custody, in the sense that he may have equal decision-making rights, when it comes to the child’s education, religion, and other matters.


The term “divorce” is often used to refer to the dissolution of a marriage, and is the process by which a marital relationship is terminated. Once the divorce has been finalized, the persons in question are free to remarry. Divorce often involves questions of child support, child spousal support and child custody.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is also often known as intimate partner violence, and refers to all types of abuse. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological and verbal. Often, issues of domestic violence feature in family law matters like divorce and child custody disputes.

Prenuptial Agreement

This is the term used for an agreement that is signed by the two parties before a marriage. A prenuptial agreement will outline the financial rights, responsibilities and obligations of each partner in the marriage, before they walk down the aisle. The agreement may define exactly how the assets or property will be divided in the event of any dissolution of the marriage.

Equitable Division

In most states, the state will provide a process that determines the division of assets and property in the event of a divorce. Equitable division is the term that is used to refer to such a process.

Collaborative Law

A couple that wants to separate does not have to immediately file for divorce. Divorcing couples can sit together with their attorneys to try to resolve their disputes on their own through alternative dispute resolution, instead of rushing to court. This process of dispute resolution without going to court is called collaborative law.