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Divorce Terminology

Affidavit of Service and Return of Service

This form is filed with the clerk of the court once the Complaint for Divorce has been served on the Defendant.  If this is not filed, the case can be dismissed by the court.

Summons

The legal document accompanying the Complaint which informs the Defendant (the other side) that a Complaint has been filed, where, the judge assigned to the case, the identity of the attorney who filed it, and the length of time the Defendant has to file a timely Answer.

The Divorce Complaint

The complaint or petition, depending on the type of case, is the very first document filed in the case and is required to commence a family law action.  The person who files it is called the Plaintiff.  This document is usually called “Complaint for Divorce”, “Complaint for Separate Maintenance”, “Petition to Establish Paternity”, or a “Petition For Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support”, etc. 

A typical complaint for divorce will set forth the names of the parties, the wife’s maiden name, and details regarding the marriage: when, where, and by whom married; the names and birth dates of the children, the grounds for divorce, jurisdiction information regarding residency, a statement regarding property and debts, whether there is a need for support, and the relief being requested.

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