Divorce and Legal Terms


At Coparenting Alliance, we do not provide legal advice; we do, however, include common legal terms and processes in our workshops because we know that some parents have never been through an attorney or court related processes related to divorce or coparenting. We asked a student at the U of I at Urbana-Champaign, So Young Park, to tell us some common legal terms that parents might struggle with as they deal with attorneys and court processes. Here's what she gave us:


Appeal: A legal request asking the higher court to reconsider lower court’s judgement

Deposition: Statement made under oath (usually regarded as evidence)

Judgement of Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage): A court’s decision freeing the parties from the institution of marriage

Order: A court’s binding decision.


Order to show cause: A court order requiring the party to attend court and explain (or prove) the matter.

Mediation: A means of resolution where a third party appointed by the court intervenes and helps the parties to reconcile.

Litigation: A means of resolution that gives the judge the authority to make the final call regarding a dispute

Marital Settlement Agreement: An agreement by the parties that provides all relevant matters the parties settled on regarding the dissolution of marriage

Parenting Plan: An agreement between the parties that provides all relevant matters (e.g., legal/physical custody, visiting schedule) regarding their children

Motion: A (written) request seeking court order

Petition: A written request that initiates a case (proceeding)

Hearing: A legitimate opportunity for the parties to state arguments and submit evidence, which is offered by the court


Discovery: Information gathering enforced by court order


Additional resources:

Forbes - The 4 Divorce Alternatives (e.g., meditation, litigation, etc...)

COVID Family Law and Divorce Resources

Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act




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