Glossary of Terms

"Pending" means, with respect to an action for annulment, legal separation, or dissolution of marriage or for maternity or paternity, either that:

1. An action has been commenced but a final judgement decree, or order has not been entered

2. A post-decree proceeding has been commenced, but a judgement, decree, or order finally determining the proceeding has not entered.

A formal written request to a court for an order of the court. It is distinguished from a complaint in a lawsuit which asks for damages and/or performance by the opposing party. Petitions include demands for writs, orders to show cause, modifications of prior orders, continuances, dismissal of a case, reduction of bail in criminal cases, a decree of distribution of an estate, appointment of a guardian, and a host of other matters arising in legal actions.  The court will provide a blank petition for the plaintiff to complete. The petition is then filed with the court, and if the judicial officer issues the protective order, a copy of the petition, along with the order, must be served on the defendant.

The plaintiff is the person who files a petition with the court for a protective order.

A protective order is a document obtained from a court to order the defendant not to contact the plaintiff and to prevent abusive behavior.