Frequently Used Court Terms

new york divorce lawyer
The contested divorce process can be stressful and confusing. The court system has guidelines in which they must follow, and deadlines for filing or producing various documents. Making the decision to let your divorce go to trial can be overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the court’s procedures, processes, or terms. To alleviate some of the anxieties you may feel about beginning a trial, the law firm of Brian D. Perskin and Associates has compiled a list of need-to-know documents and terms that will help you better understand the New York State Unified Court System.

Opposing Counsel

The opposing counsel is the New York divorce lawyer or law firm that represents your spouse. If your spouse has decided to go forth without legal representation, they will appear in court pro se. Be sure that the opposing counsel was not an attorney with whom you met previously as a couple or individually when you considered filing for divorce. If you did meet with this attorney, they cannot represent your spouse due to conflict of interest.


In many litigated divorce cases, an attorney will need to prepare a motion to present to the court. A motion can be either written or oral, and it requests that the judge rule in favor of the party that is presenting the motion. Examples of motions that Brian D. Perskin & Associates have won in the past include temporary maintenance and child support (for the duration of litigation), exclusive use of a marital residence, and child custody and visitation.

Pendente Lite Support

Pendente Lite is Latin for “Awaiting the litigation”. Pendente Lite support is granted to the motioning party on a temporary basis until a final agreement is ordered by a judge. Child support, custody, and maintenance are forms of Pendente Lite support. A New York divorce lawyer must prepare a motion if requesting temporary support.

Order to Show Cause

An Order to Show Cause (OSC) is a written mandate that requires a party to appear in court in front of a judge for a specific reason. The OSC will use either case facts or pertinent laws to request that a judge not grant a particular order. An Order to Show Cause is considered a motion. An Order to Show Cause can be used for various reasons, including:

  • divorce attorney in new yorkTo change the terms of a court order
  • Force your spouse to follow through on something they agreed they would handle
  • Fixing any mistakes found in a stipulation
  • Asking for more time for you to do whatever you agreed to handle
  • To explain why you missed a court date or failed to file an answer
  • To ask the court to dismiss your case
  • To force your spouse to provide you with discovery information
  • To request that the case return to court

Orders and Stipulations

In all trial cases, regardless of whether they are matrimonial or family law, a judge will grant multiple orders. An order is legally binding, and both parties must comply with it. For instance, a judge can order that the defendant remove his or her property from the plaintiff’s home before the next court date. In certain situations, a judge will order an Order of Protection that will prevent one party from contacting the other. Additionally, a judge can order that both parties provide financial documents during the discovery phase.
A stipulation is an agreement between attorneys involved in a case. A common stipulation is a Stipulation of Adjournment. Stipulations can also include terms of the settlement, whether it is for your final Judgment of Divorce or a motion. Stipulations, like orders, are very common in litigated cases.


If the court grants an adjournment, it means that the judge is postponing your court appearance to a later date or time. Your attorney can request an adjournment on your behalf if you are ill or have an important prior commitment on the same day as your scheduled court appearance. In some instances, your lawyer will work with the opposing counsel to adjourn an appearance if both parties need additional time to produce documents, or if your attorney is required to appear in court for another client. Adjournments are quite common.

Preliminary Conference

A preliminary conference is a meeting of the parties and their New York divorce lawyer before a judge or magistrate. This pretrial conference is usually ordered by the court. It is used for a variety of reasons, including discouraging wasteful or useless pretrial activities encourage thorough preparation and cooperation from both parties in the action, or possibly even trying to help the parties settle their case before it goes to trial. Judges will also use the preliminary conference to set further trial dates.

Discovery Demands

Attorneys for both parties will issue discovery demands to be served upon the opposing counsel prior to the start of litigation. These demands request that the receiving party produce certain documents that are relevant to the case. Common discovery demands are tax returns, bills and other documents showing household expenses, proof of assets, etc. All documents requested in the discovery phase of a case must be relevant to the matter at hand.

Statement of Net Worth

A Statement of Net Worth (SNW) is a document that you create with your attorney’s assistance that details how much money you are worth. This is used to help determine the stipulations of your divorce settlement. An SNW will outline how much money you make, the number of funds you have in bank accounts and investments, assets, and household and lifestyle costs. These are typical in divorce litigations, and both parties will need to complete an SNW.
Divorce or family law litigation can be complicated, and it is not recommended that a party navigate the waters alone. A qualified and experienced matrimonial or New York divorce lawyer will be able to determine the best course of action for your case, as well as work with you throughout the process. The law firm of Brian D. Perskin and Associates has been advocating on the behalf of those facing the daunting process of divorce for over 20 years. Let our experience work for you by contacting us at 718-875-7584 to schedule your consultation today!

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