Divorce Mediation Glossary

Equitable Distribution

Equitable Distribution refers to the “fair” distribution of marital assets. Unlike equal distribution, equitable distribution attempts to count both spouses’ contribution to marital assets, financial and otherwise, when determining how property should be divided.

Marital Assets

Any assets, including property, acquired or enhanced during the course of the marriage. This includes the home, furnishings, art, cars, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions (or that amount of the pension enriched during the marriage); indeed anything acquired during the legal union, regardless whose name appears on the title. Inheritance is not marital property if it has been kept separate from other assets. However, if an inheritance has been co-mingled with other marital assets or used in a manner that can be perceived as marital, such as home improvements or tuition for a child’s school, it becomes considered a marital asset.

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is that amount of money directed to the spouse who is in need of financial assistance. This may be a long term commitment or a shorter term commitment that would be viewed as an interim assistance until the individual is able to get their financial footing. Spousal Support is regarded as income to the recipient and as a result taxable. It is also tax deductable for the spouse who is paying it.

Child Support

Child Support is that amount of money that is allocated for the children’s expenses. Generally it flows from the nonresidential parent to the residential parent. It is not considered income and is therefore not taxable to the recipient nor is it tax deductible for the parent paying it. Generally, Child Support is calculated according to the guideline established by the New York State Child Support Standards Act. (https://www.childsupport.ny.gov/dcse/pdfs/cssa_2011.pdf). It is based on the gross income of the non-residential parent (less a few minor deductions). It allocates: 17% for one Child 25% for two, 29% for three, 31% for 4 and no less than 35% for five or more children.

QUADRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order)

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is an order which establishes an alternate payee’s right to, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to, receive all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a qualified Plan (such as an employer sponsored pension plan.


Legal Custody refers to decision making - how parents will make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of their child (children). Parents may share Joint Legal Custody and work together to make major decisions on behalf of their children. They may decide that they cannot work well together and decide that one parent will make those decisions and choose Sole Custody or they may choose Split Legal Custody based on expertise or value for the child. For example if one parent is best suited to make decisions about school and one about medical issues, parents may choose to divide the Legal Custody in this manner.

Physical Custody also referred to as primary residence is the residence where the child or children spend most of the time.

Visitation/Parenting Time

We use the term Parenting Time instead of visitation as it more accurately reflects reality. Parenting time refers to that portion of the week when a parent is in charge of the child or children. It is not only the right of parents to spend time with his or her child (children) but also an obligation. It is in place to insure that children have access to both parents on a regular basis. Generally, schedules are established during mediation. Schedules are useful tools and make it easier for parents and children to know what time they will have together so they can plan various activities, vacation time and holidays.

New York State Divorce Law