Divorce, with all the emotional baggage that it brings, is a difficult experience for anyone. You knew that, but no one told you that you would have to learn a new language.

As you go through the stages or steps in a divorce, there are words that may confuse you.  Here are some helpful definitions.


When you decide you want to divorce, you will be met with options.  It is best to learn about your many options and then discuss these choices with an attorney.

Temporary Orders

Once you file for divorce, your attorney may ask for “Temporary Orders.”  These can best be described as the rules you will live by until the divorce is final.  These “rules” usually include things such as orders for custody, support and maintenance or other orders deemed appropriate.

Separation Agreement

At the end of your divorce you and your spouse will hopefully reach agreement on the contested issues in your divorce.  There are many components to this agreement, some of which may be dividing up your property, custody and support of the children, paying or receiving alimony as well as many other issues.


This term refers to the official power in a county to make legal decisions and judgments.  In a divorce the Probate and Family Court in the County in which you live will generally have jurisdiction over your divorce case.  There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.