Divorce is always a difficult process, especially when emotions have to be dealt with as much as joint property, retirement planning and child custody issues. Many spouses who are planning to get divorce will hire an attorney with experience in marital and divorce law to ensure their rights and privileges are protected.
One of the most common complications in the process of navigating the end of a marriage is the new language that comes in play. Legal terms are designed to be as clear as possible about expectations for the parties involved, but some terms are not clear to those not as familiar with divorce law.
For spouses with children, the difference between alimony and child support is a key point for understanding. Alimony is paid by one spouse, normally the one with greater financial assets or opportunities, to the other in order to maintain an expected standard of living. Child support is exclusively to maintain the health and safety of children.
Child custody and visitation rights are also different terms, usually assigned to the parent responsible for the child's primary home and needs. That spouse is considered to have custody, while a certain amount of time must be scheduled for the noncustodial parent to spend time with the child. That is called a visitation right.
If parents split custody, the court order that allows for it is called a joint parenting order. These orders have details on how responsibilities and time are to be divided between the divorced parents.
Source: Southern Illinois University, "Your Rights if Your Spouse Has Filed for Divorce in Illinois," accessed Oct. 30, 2017