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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Palimony Support paid from one person to another even though they were never married.
Paralegal A trained person who assists a lawyer.
Parens patriae A doctrine whereby the state takes jurisdiction over a minor living within its border. It is the basis for deciding what state will assume jurisdiction in a child custody case.
Parenting classes Organized classes designed to teach parents how to minimize the negative aspects of divorce on their children.
Party A plaintiff or a defendant in a legal proceeding.
Paternity The legal biological relationship between father and child.
Perjury The act of lying under oath in court.
Personal jurisdiction The power of the court to make orders regarding an individual and have them enforced.
Personal property Property that is not real estate.
Petition The title given to the first document filed in pursuit of a divorce.
Petitioner The person who initiates the divorce by filing the petition.
Physical custody It is in reference to the parent with whom the child resides. Depending upon arrangements, it may be joint or sole custody.
Plaintiff The individual who files the divorce petition, thereby initiating the divorce.
Pleading A formal written application to the court which requests action by the court.
Postnuptial A written contract between husband and wife that states all of their present and future rights in view of their impending divorce.
Praecipe An order asking the court to act. It is addressed to the clerk of court.
Prayer The portion at the end of the pleading which states the relief that is requested of the court.
Precedent Something that has already happened that will influence how future similar events will be viewed by the court.
Prenuptial agreement A legal contract signed by two people before they get married. It typically involves limitations on a spouse's rights to property, support, and inheritance upon divorce.
Present value The value of a future payment or series of future payments discounted to the current date or to time period zero.
Primary caretaker The parent who provides majority of the child's day to day care.
Privilege The right a spouse has to make admissions to an attorney or counselor that can not be later used as evidence.
Pro se divorce A divorce in which each spouse represents themselves in court without an attorney.
Prothonothary The court clerk in charge of civil filings.
Purpose of an appraisal The states scope of an appraisal assignment, i.e., to estimate a defined value of any real property interest, or to conduct an evaluation study pertaining to real property decisions.