New York Family Law Glossary
Learn Important Family Law Terms
At Arnel Law Firm, we are determined to help our clients successfully resolve their family matters and move forward to a brighter future. We believe in empowering our clients by giving them the tools and resources they need to achieve their goals.
Family law encompasses rules and laws regarding relationships between family members and loved ones. Below, we provide a glossary of some key family law terms for your convenience.
Alimony, spousal maintenance, and spousal support are legal terms for a payment made from one spouse to the other to help the lower-earning spouse maintain financial stability following a divorce. Alimony can be ordered as temporary monthly payments or as a permanent obligation.
Child support is a sum of money that one parent pays to the other as a means of financial support for their child. Child support is usually paid by the non-custodial parent or the one who spends less time with the child. New York’s child support guidelines outline how to calculate child support payments.
Physical custody and visitation are terms used when determining the amount of time a child spends with each parent. Parents may share physical custody, or one parent may have primary physical custody while the other has court-ordered visitation rights.
Legal custody is the assignment of decision-making authority for a child. Having legal custody gives you the right to make certain decisions about how the child will be raised. For example, a parent with legal custody can decide what religion the child will be raised with and what school they will attend.
Divorce is the process by which a married couple terminates their marriage. When a divorce is finalized, each party regains the right to remarry. During a divorce, couples must work out a wide range of issues, such as how shared property will be divided, whether one spouse will pay alimony, and with whom their children will live.
Domestic violence is any form of physical, verbal, psychological, or emotional abuse against a person with whom you share a close or domestic relationship. Domestic violence can be committed against a spouse, ex-spouse, parent, sibling, child, roommate, or dating partner.
A prenuptial agreement is a type of contract that two soon-to-be spouses can sign to protect their rights and assets in the event of death or divorce. A prenuptial agreement might include provisions about how the couple will divide property, spousal support payments, and other related matters. Prenuptial agreements are only enforceable if they were signed willingly – meaning neither party was coerced into signing.
Community property is the term for shared or marital property. Any assets that the spouses acquired during the marriage are considered community property – unless it was received as a gift or inheritance. Community property is generally divided equitably in a divorce, meaning that it will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally.
Equitable division applies to the property division process. Community property should be divided equitably so that each party receives their fair share. Equitable division does not necessarily entail a 50/50 split.
Collaborative law is a process in which a divorcing couple commits to alternative dispute resolution rather than litigation. If collaborative law does not work out and yield a successful resolution, both parties’ lawyers must withdraw, and the spouses will have to find new representation.
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