If you’re in the midst of a divorce settlement or about to go to court for one, it’s important to be aware of the legal jargon used in divorce law. Some of these terms can sound complicated, but they aren’t really too hard to understand, and once you learn them, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the complexities of your divorce case. Here are a few of the most common and most important bits of legal jargon surrounding divorce.

An annulment is a declaration by a court that a marriage was never legally valid, and that it will no longer be binding. After an annulment is agreed upon, both parties are free to re-marry.

Constructive Abandonment:
Abandonment itself is straightforward–it refers to when one spouse leaves the other, without just cause, for a period of a year or more. Constructive abandonment can be a bit more complicated. It occurs when one spouse refuses to have sexual relations with the other for a period of a year or more, without just cause. Both types of abandonment can be considered a cause for divorce.

Custody in legal terms has two parts: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions, including legal decisions, for a child under the age of 18, while physical custody is the care and housing of a child under 18. Custody is often contested between the two parents in divorce cases.

Ex Parte Hearing:
An ex parte hearing is one where one party (i.e., one spouse) is not present, although they will be given notice of the hearing by the court. Ex parte hearings are usually reserved for urgent cases, such as those where physical violence has occurred.

Interim Order:
An interim order is a temporary order made by a court until a final order can be made. Interim orders, like other court orders, are legally binding and must be followed.

Parental Responsibility:
In legal terms, parental responsibility refers to the responsibility of each parent to make decisions about the welfare of their child. These responsibilities may be specifically agreed upon by a court order.

A subpoena is a document issued by a court to someone, at the request of an involved party, that requires them to produce documents or other evidence in court.

These are just a few of the most common bits of legal jargon you may hear during divorce proceedings. Divorce law can be complicated, so if you have any legal questions during a case, your best bet is to contact an expert on family law and divorce law, such as Prime Family Lawyers, practitioners of family law in Sydney, Australia. Understanding these legal terms is key to putting yourself in the best position to win your divorce settlement, so if you’re at all confused, contact an expert and don’t try to parse divorce jargon on your own.