Divorce Process

Common Divorce Terminology

Below is a List of Terms Often Heard in Connection with the Divorce Process

Child Specialist: In a Collaborative Divorce, the collaboratively-trained mental health professional who serves as a support for the parties’ children, and conveys the children’s concerns to the Collaborative team. Read more about psychological treatment for children without the consent of both parents.

Complaint: The document filed with the Circuit Court to start any lawsuit, including a divorce.

Discovery: In the context of a lawsuit, the process authorized by court rule for parties to request information from each other. Discovery includes depositions, interrogatories (a set of written questions) and requests to admit facts or to produce documents. Discovery can be very time-consuming and expensive.

Divorce Coach: In a Collaborative Divorce, the collaboratively-trained mental health professional who offers support to a party throughout the divorce process. There may be a divorce coach for each party, or they may each use the same divorce coach. Read more about choosing who oversees your divorce.

Ex Parte: Literally, “by one party.” At the beginning of a divorce case, a judge may issue an ex parte order at one party’s request establishing custody, child support, or the like, on an extremely limited basis. The other party must be notified of the order and given the right to object to it. If they do not, it becomes a temporary order.

Financial Neutral: In a Collaborative Divorce, the collaboratively-trained financial professional who assists the parties in understanding their financial situation and their financial options in divorce.

Friend of the Court: The FOC serves the Circuit Court’s family court division, and makes recommendations regarding custody, parenting, child support, and medical support

Joint Custody: When legal custody is held jointly, both parents have the right to participate in major life decisions for the child, such as educational, medical, and religious. Joint physical custody means that the child spends some time residing with each parent. Read more about child custody.

Judgment: The document signed by the judge setting forth the resolution of a lawsuit. A judgment to which the parties have agreed is known as a “consent judgment.”

Mediation: An alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral party, the mediator, works with the parties to facilitate their reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to one or more issues. In evaluative (as opposed to facilitative) mediation, the mediator evaluates the strength of each client’s case and proposes a settlement. Read more about mediation.

Motion: A document that is filed with the court during a lawsuit (or after the conclusion of a lawsuit), asking the court to take some action regarding the subject matter of the lawsuit. Motions generally are decided after a hearing.

Order: The court’s official decision regarding a motion that has been filed.

Parenting Time: What used to be known as visitation is now called parenting time in Michigan. Read more about parenting time.

Participation Agreement: This is the agreement signed by the parties and all professionals involved at the beginning of the Collaborative Divorce process, pledging to negotiate honestly and not to threaten litigation.

Praecipe: a document the court requires to be filed along with a motion in order to schedule a hearing on the motion.

Record of Divorce: a one-page document required by the State of Michigan to be filed in all divorce cases for state record-keeping purposes. Some counties require the document to be filed with the court at the beginning of the a divorce case, others require it at the conclusion.

Settlement Agreement: A document containing the terms of the settlement of any lawsuit or legal matter, including a divorce. A settlement agreement becomes legally binding when incorporated into a judgment.

Spousal Support: What used to be known as alimony is now called spousal support in Michigan.

Uniform Support Order: A uniform document signed by the court, setting forth the amount and duration of child or spousal support.

Verified Statement: A document required to be filed in all Michigan divorces involving Friend of the Court services; it includes information on the parties, their employers, addresses, and children.