Divorceinfo.com Terminology

I use several terms repeatedly on DivorceInfo. If you come here looking for a term and don’t see it defined, please let me know so I can add it.

Discharge – a bankruptcy term for getting rid of a debt that you once had. Click here for a full explanation.

Gladiator – lawyers who make their living doing adversarial divorces. In general, they have unmatched expertise in negotiating the nuances of local procedures, because they are in divorce court almost daily. They know where the judge likes to hunt, what kind of car each staff person drives, where the pendente lite forms are and what abbreviations to use to fill them out quickly. They also know a great deal about each other. A gladiator is invaluable if you need a warrior for a divorce fight. You can gain some insight about how many gladiators view the world by reading An Open Letter from Your Divorce Lawyer.

Leaver – the person who wants divorce to happen. The leaver typically began grieving over the end of the marriage months or even years ago and therefore is almost always further along in the process than the left. One of the most maddening aspects of divorce, however, is the Leaver’s realization — sometimes after the legal divorce is accomplished, and usually fleeting — that he or she misses the divorced spouse and now regrets the divorce.

Left – the person who wants the marriage to survive, who enters into discussions about divorce reluctantly if at all. Although divorce is agony for everybody concerned, the impact is typically most dramatic on the Left. He or she is fully involved in the grieving process and may gyrate wildly between feelings and behaviors of undying love on the one hand, and feelings and behaviors of menacing hatred on the other.

Mooshing – the give and take, the trading of this for that, that goes on naturally in the negotiations surrounding divorce. Sometimes mooshing can be simple and straightforward, as in trading one credit card bill for another. Sometimes it can be more creative, as in trading frequent flyer miles for the exemptions for the children, or trading the washer and dryer for an extra night with the kids during the week. This may seem cynical, but it’s real, so it makes sense for you to be sensitive to how it works.

Ore Tenus – This is an Alabama term, pronounced “OAR ay TENN us.” It refers to the presumption of correctness the appeals court gives to the findings of fact reached by a trial court in a nonjury case. Here’s what the court said about it in 1991: “Where ore tenus evidence is presented to the trial court in a nonjury case, a judgment based on that evidence is presumed to be correct and will not be disturbed on appeal unless a consideration of the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom reveals that the judgment is plainly and palpably erroneous or manifestly unjust.” Arzonico v. Wells, 589 So. 2d 152, 153 (Ala. 1991). This having been said, appellate courts in Alabama are famous for relying on ore tenus when it helps them and ignoring it when it serves their purposes to do so. Bottom line: we lawyers talk about it a lot, but I’m not sure it changes a lot of rulings.

Rule Nisi – This is an Alabama term, pronounced “NIGH sigh.” A petition for rule nisi is Alabama’s arcane term for an enforcement petition, and it is appropriate in post-divorce cases where one of the parties is ignoring or breaching the court’s decree. In technical terms, it requests that the court order the offending party to appear before the court and explain why the court shouldn’t put the offending party in jail for defying the decree. If the court finds the offending party in civil contempt, the court can (and often does) order the offending party to pay attorney’s fees for the action.

STBX. Soon to be Ex. The person to whom you’re married now but are in the process of divorcing.

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