Terminology

In order to represent yourself in a courtroom it is imperative that you understand some of the basic terms used on a daily basis in the courtroom.  Below is a listing of the more common terms.  For more information seek out a legal dictionary in the public library or on the internet.

Affidavit A sworn statement in writing made under oath or an affirmation before an authorized magistrate or officer.
Alimony An allowance made by one spouse to the other for support pending or after a divorce.  Also known as:  Spousal Maintenance, Spousal Support.
Annulment Declaring a marriage void or invalid, as if it never occurred.
Case Number /
Cause Number
The number given to a case by the District Clerk’s office that specifically identifies a specific case or suit.  Also known as:  Docket Number.
Child Support Money paid by a parent to help the other parent support the child.
Decree The legal document signed by the Judge that grants the divorce and orders  the specific terms of the divorce.  Also known as:  Divorce Decree, Final Decree, Final Decree of Divorce, and other derivatives.
District Clerk The elected official responsible for maintaining the court records for the Bell County District Courts.  This office receives and secures all court papers in relation to divorce files.   There is also a “County Clerk” who is an elected official that maintains the court records for the Bell County, County Courts.
Employer’s Withholding Order A court order to deduct child support payments from a person’s employment wages.  Generally all divorce cases that involve children will require child support and this order.
Filing Giving the District Clerk legal papers to be placed in the court file.  The clerks will time/date stamp each document as it is received so it will be clear when the document was put in the file. This is a derivative of the phrase "to file a document."
No-Fault Divorce The most common type of divorce, where no one needs to prove that one party or the other caused the marriage to end.
Notary A person authorized to witness and authenticate signatures on documents.  For example, the Waiver of Service must have a notary witness the spouse’s signature.  Most banks provide notary service for a fee.
Obligee The person who receives child support on behalf of the child. Also known as:  Payee
Obligor The person who is court ordered to pay child support.  Also known as:  Payor
Paternity Legally determining the biological parents of a child.
Petition A legal document that initiates a divorce.  Also known as:  Divorce Petition, Initial Petition.
Petitioner The person who files for divorce.
Pro Se Representing yourself without an attorney. Also called "Un-Represented Litigants."
Process Server The person (such as a Sheriff’s Deputy) or company who gives official legal notice to another person by giving them an official copy of a court document such as the Divorce Petition.
Respondent The spouse of the person who filed for divorce.
Return An affidavit as to the date and time that legal papers were delivered to a specific person.   This information is placed in the file at the District Clerk’s office.
Served A derivative of "service." A form of legal notification for giving your spouse a copy of the Divorce Petition.
Service A form of legal notification for giving your spouse a copy of the Divorce Petition.  Also known as:  Serving, Service Citation, Processing Service, and other derivatives.
Serving A derivative of "service." A form of legal notification for giving your spouse a copy of the Divorce Petition.
Spousal Maintenance An allowance made by one spouse to the other for support pending or after a divorce.  Also known as:  Alimony, Spousal Support.
Temporary Orders Court orders that have a limited time frame.  These orders may address issues that require attention before the divorce is finalized such as custody, visitation, child support, use of property and responsibility to pay debt.
Temporary Restraining Order Court orders used at the beginning of a divorce that prohibit the other spouse from abusing property, financial accounts or people during the divorce process.  If there is a fear that the other spouse will withdraw all the money from a shared financial account, for example, a temporary restraining order could be used to restrict access or activity for that particular account.  Also known as:  TRO and is a type of Temporary Order.
Un-Represented Litigant (URL) The newer term used to identify those who represent themselves without an attorney. Also called Pro Se or Pro Se Litigants.
Waiver of Service A document signed by the Respondent in the presence of a notary that indicates the person has received legal notice of a divorce (received the papers) without an official process server or Sheriff’s Deputy giving it to them. This is the most common form of legal notification for Pro Se filings. This document may also have other legal consequences depending on what is stated in the waiver.