Glossary for letter D

monetary payment won through the courts to recover for a loss, injury, or detriment.
De Bene Esse:
a term literally meaning as well done. This phrase typically describes the practice of obtaining a video taped examination (done by deposition) of a witness, or a party, in anticipation of future need, to preserve the sworn testimony for use at a later time. This practice is especially critical if the deponent will, or might, be subsequently unavailable at the time of trial.
Deadbeat Parents:
parents who do not pay their child support obligations.
a sum of money due under express obligation or agreement.
a judicial determination arrived at after due consideration of the facts and the applicable law. It is often supported by an opinion which sets forth the court’s analysis.
a written instrument of the court which is either an interlocutory (i.e., intermediate, not final) order or final judgment entered by the court, either on the court’s findings, or by the agreement of the parties, resolving the matters in controversy between the parties. (see Consent Decree, see also Judgment)
Decree Nisi:
a provisional decree of divorce, which will be made final after a period of time, or upon motion of the court or the parties.
a written instrument, signed and delivered and used to convey realty from one interest to another. (see also Quit Claim Deed and Warranty Deed)
Deed Registry:
the place or person in civil court system where deeds are recorded, protecting the grantee’s claim to title to the property described in the deed as against other grantee’s who could be holding a deed to the same realty.
the person defending or denying the plaintiff’s allegations in a lawsuit.
that which the defendant offers or alleges in his answer to defeat or diminish the plaintiff’s allegations set forth in his/her complaint. (see also Affirmative Defense)
Deferred Distribution:
refers to division of employment/employee or retirement benefits in the future, at a time subsequent to the parties’ divorce action.
Deferred Pay Plan:
a kind of employment/employee benefit, often discretionary and offered to higher level personnel, involving the right to receive accrued income or stock at a future date after a period of time. (see also Defined Benefit Plan, Defined Contribution Plan, Non-Qualified Plan, Qualified Plan, and Stock Option--including stock subject to repurchase.)
Deficiency Action:
a suit by a secured creditor, typically a mortgage holder (mortgagee) to recover the balance of the debt owed after the collateral pledged to secure the initial debt is sold, and the proceeds found insufficient to satisfy the debt with attendant costs incurred by the creditor.
Defined Benefit Plan:
often a single annuity type of plan. Generally, with this kind of plan, there is no separate account in the name of the individual employee beneficiary. Instead, employers put aside benefits (money, stock) for a group of employees in the aggregate, with the individual employee-spouse entitled to share in the benefits after a period of time (vesting), whereafter, the plan’s payment will be apportioned at a predetermined retirement date and paid in fixed sums (like an annuity) for the lifetime of the employee.
Defined Contribution Plan:
a separate account in the employee-spouse’s name. Often the employee will contribute pre-tax dollars to his separate account, which will then be matched, up to a certain amount, by the employer’s contribution. This type of plan has a short vesting period and the employee never looses the value of his contributions. A common example of a defined contribution plan is the 401(k), 403(b), or 457.
attitude, comportment.
Dependency Exemption:
now connected with several educational and child care tax credits, the dependency exemption represents a sum of money a person can subtract--for each dependent she/he claims--from her/his adjusted gross income, per the requirements set forth in the IRC (Internal Revenue Code). Unless bargained away, or ordered otherwise by the court, the dependency exemption for children will belong to the parent with primary physical custody upon divorce.
one who relies on another for support or sustenance.
a discovery proceeding wherein a party or witness must appear at a fixed date, time and place to give testimony, under oath, in response to oral questioning by an adverse party’s attorney (or the party him/herself, if appearing in the case pro se). The deponent’s sworn testimony is preserved in written form in a transcript book prepared by the court reporter (or stenographer) who is present at the deposition. The dep can be recorded on video tape as well, as in the case of a deposition de bene esse. (See De Bene Esse.)
literally a fall in value. The term also refers to a write-off for tax purposes using various accounting methods allowed by the IRS.
progeny, offspring.
Direct Examination:
an attorney’s (or pro se litigant’s) examination of his/her own client or witness, in the case-in-chief.
refers to the extinguishing or cancellation of debt in bankruptcy.
revelation, particularly in relation to the obligation of a party to reveal the existence of assets, debts, income, and liabilities for identification and distribution in divorce or separation actions.
a term which, in the general sense, refers to the examination, investigation, and assessment of the facts and circumstances relative to the law suit, particularly as they relate to the one party’s allegations and defenses or denials to the other party’s claims. Lawyers use special documents like interrogatories, notices to produce documents, notices to take oral depositions, notices for depositions upon written questions, notices for inspection of property, notices of physical or mental examinations of a party, notices in lieu of subpoena, subpoenae duces tecum and ad testificandum, as well as requests for admissions, in the course of pursuing discovery.
Distribution of Property:
how the court orders, or the parties agree to apportion their marital or community assets upon divorce or legal separation.
Divorce from Bed and Board (also called a Divorce A Mensa Thoro):
a legal separation in which the parties determine their relative marital rights and obligations, but does not break the bond of matrimony.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, genetic blueprint.
Docket Number:
a figure assigned to a law suit once it’s filed and used by the court clerk to record and track the case for orderly management.
Doctrine of Necessaries:
a legal principle whereby a spouse (historically the husband) is legally obligated to pay for the cost of necessaries like food, shelter, clothing, medical care a third party provides to the other spouse or his/her children.
Domestic Relations:
the field of family law.
Domestic Violence (DV):
an area of practice and legislation devoted to preventing spousal abuse by providing the police and courts with swift and effective mechanisms to afford the victims financial relief and physical protection, including temporary and final restraining orders keeping abusers away from their victims under pain of felony prosecution.
Domestic Relations Order, a specific document used to distribute non-qualified deferred pay programs such as certain pensions and annuities, particularly those belonging to federal or state government workers. Also known as a COAP, Court Order Acceptable for Processing.
Dual Classification States:
all the states which are not listed as Kitchen Sink States. Dual classification states require the parties and their counsel to ascertain when each asset/debt was acquired, to determine if it was during the marriage and as such, subject to distribution in the divorce action.
Dual Final Judgment (or Decree) of Divorce (or Marital Dissolution):
a document entered in favor of both litigants granting each one a divorce from the other.
Duces Tecum:
a Latin term meaning bring with you.
Due Process:
the right to defend yourself and have an opportunity to be heard in a fair, systematic manner. This right is guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
long term, short term, relates to length of marriage or period of time.
force, commonly under unlawful threat of harm or injury; also, an affirmative defense to an intentional tort; or against the enforcement of a prenuptial agreement (e.g., that it was signed under duress.)
a legal or moral obligation, e.g., to use reasonable care in our everyday dealings.
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The Boomer's Guide to Divorce: And a New Life
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