Divorce Dictionary

Unfamiliar with a term? Need to clarify a definition? This comprehensive dictionary of words commonly used during the divorce process can help.
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Damages The monetary harm caused by the actions of another person.
Debtor A person who owes money.
Decree The final decision made on an action for divorce.
Deed A written, legal instrument that conveys an estate or interest in real property when it is executed and delivered. There are numerous types of deeds.
Default order or judgment An order or judgment made based on only the plaintiff's (petitioner's) complaint, due to no response or presence of the defendant (respondent).
Defendant The spouse who defends against the lawsuit brought against him or her by the other spouse.
Deferred annuity An income stream that begins at some time in the future.
Deferred compensation package This includes all retirement assets (such as a pension, 401K, IRA) and any other saving or postponed income earned during the marriage.
Deposition The testimony of a witness under oath and reduced to writing. It is also used to question opposing spouse. (see legal process section in your state).
Depreciation In appraising, a loss in property value from any cause. In regard to improvements, deterioration and Obsolescence. In accounting, an allowance made against the loss in value of an asset for a defined purpose and computed using a specified method.
Direct capitalization The capitalization method used to convert an estimate of a single year's income expectancy or any annual average of several years' income expectancies into an indication of value in one step, either by dividing the income estimated by an appropriate rate or by multiplying the income estimate by an appropriate factor.
Direct examination The initial questioning of a witness called to the stand by an attorney.
Direct payment Child or spousal support paid directly to the parent who has custody by the parent who does not have custody.
Disbarment The official seizing of an attorney's license to practice law.
Discounting The procedure used to convert periodic income and reversions into present value: based on the assumption that benefits received in the future are worth less than the same benefits received now.
Discovery Procedures used to absorb information that pertains to the credibility of the opposing party's case. The term may also be used for the interview procedure between the attorney and the client at the initial meeting.
Discretion of the court An area of choice available to a judge to make decisions after reviewing reasonable evidence.
Dismiss The termination of a case without a final disposition of the matter.
Dissolution of marriage A legal judgment that severs a marriage relationship and returns each person to single status.
Divorce A final decree required to legally terminate a valid marriage.
Docket The calendar schedule of the court.
Docket number The number assigned by a court to a civil or criminal case. It is used to identify all court actions and it appears on all documents filed with the court in a specific case.
Domicile The place where a person lives and will return if temporarily absent.
Dower A wife's common law right to inherit from her husband.