Petition

The term petition in family law takes on a unique meaning. Like a complaint in non-family civil action, the petition in family law simply refers to the initial document beginning the process of legal action against a party or parties. For instance, if a client is seeking a divorce from his/her spouse, the opening document in the legal process would be known as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document would, among other things, identify the parties to the dispute, establish jurisdictional matters (i.e. what court has authority to hear the issue), list basic facts about the relationship between the parties, and make clear what is being requested from the court (in this instance, the request for a divorce). If children, alimony, or assets/liabilities are in dispute, these issues will also be raised in the aforementioned Petition. It should be noted that in family law, the party raising the issue is known, conveniently enough, as the petitioner, while the party responding to the petition is known as the respondent.