Family Law Glossary & Terms

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# A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V W
2-2-3 Parenting Plan
Under this plan, the parties have exchanges typically every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday night (or every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning). This plan guarantees the child will go no longer than three days without seeing a parent. This is most commonly ordered for young children.   
5-2-2-5 Parenting Plan
Under this plan, one parent has the child every Monday and Tuesday; the other parent has the child every Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents alternate weekends. It is the most common equal parenting time plan in Arizona.
Acceptance of Service (AOS)
This document, when signed in front of a notary and filed with the Court, completes the required service of a Petition. This avoids being served the Petition by a process server. Attorneys may sign an Acceptance of Service on behalf of their clients except attorneys may not sign for Protective Orders or Petitions for Contempt. For initial Petitions in Family Court, the date the AOS was signed is the date the community is severed and thus anything accumulated after the date of service is considered sole and separate. See ARFLP Rule 40(f).
Acknowledgment of Paternity
This is a document that is signed by both a mother and a father of a child in front of a notary that declares the father is the biological parent of the child. When filed with the state, it has the effect of a court order determining paternity—and may only be challenged in limited circumstances. Most commonly, the parties sign this in a hospital as part of putting the father’s name on the birth certificate.
Acquisition Date
The date property is acquired. If acquired before marriage, it is presumed to be separate property. If acquired during the marriage, it’s presumed to be community property.
The starting of a new case or new round of litigation. An action always starts with filing a Petition.
Actual Income
For spousal maintenance purposes, “income from any source before any deductions or withholdings” ASMG § III(A)(1)(b). It is meant to include all pre-tax earnings and is very inclusive of almost all sources of income.
Adjusted basis
For tax purposes, an adjusted basis, includes the price of acquisition plus adjustments for the cost associated with the sale of the asset and the costs of any improvements made to that asset.
A written statement made under oath about a particular issue. The person making the statement declares that what they have written is true under the penalty of perjury. Affidavits are signed in front of a notary. While useful in many situations, an affidavit has little evidentiary value at a trial where the better practice is to have the person testify and be subject to cross-examination.
Affidavit of Direct Payment
A document signed in front of a notary by the person who is receiving payment. They swear under oath they have been paid an amount that was owed them under a Court order. The Affidavit must be filed with the Court for the payor to receive credit of having paid.
Affidavit of Service
A sworn statement filed by a licensed process server to inform the Court that they have completed service.
Affidavit Regarding Minor Children
This is a document that must be filed with a Divorce with Children or a Petition to Establish. The Affidavit Regarding Minor Children asks a parent to swear under oath as to the different addresses where the child has lived for the last five years. The purpose of it is to ensure Arizona is properly exercising jurisdiction for legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support.
Aggregate-Theory State
A state wherein each spouse gets one half of the total community property. This allows for unequal division of individual assets and debts so long as the total community property is equally divided. Arizona is an aggregate-theory state. In re Estate of Kirkes, 231 Ariz. 334 (2013). For example, Let’s say Husband and Wife have three assets: A car worth $1,000.00; a bank account worth $2,000, and a 401k worth $1,000. In an aggregate-theory state, the Court can award Wife the $2,000 bank account and Husband the $1,000 car and $1,000 401k because they each get $2,000 in assets. In contrast, in an item theory state, each of them would get half of each asset.  See Item-Theory State.
Alienation of Affections
A common-law tort (i.e., a lawsuit that was historically permitted) if a wife cheated on her husband, he could sue her lover for causing his wife to fall out of love with him. Arizona has a law that specifically states this suit has been abolished. See A.R.S. § 25-341.
All-or-Nothing Rule
Once law in Arizona, this rule has now been overturned and replaced by the apportionment rule. Under this rule, when separate property either generated profits or increased in value during the marriage, the Court was required to determine that such profits and increases were either all separate property or all community property. In 1979, the Arizona Supreme Court did away with this rule, favoring the more even-handed approach of the Apportionment Rule. See Cockrill v. Cockrill, 124 Ariz. 50 (1979). See also Apportionment Rule.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
This is a court-ordered mediation that the parties attend. It is usually conducted by a commissioner or judge pro tempore serving as the mediator. The mediator will usually require the parties to submit a Mediation Memorandum prior to mediation. The mediator will then work with each party (and their attorney, if they have one) to reach agreements.
Alternative Service
A way to serve someone outside the prescribed ways listed in ARFLP Rule 41(c) to (i). To get to alternative service, a party must show that the methods in ARFLP Rule 41(c) to (i) are impracticable and the person’s proposed method of service is reasonably calculated to reach the other party. Option is generally only allowed when all other options are exhausted. See ARFLP Rule 41(l).
Amended Petition
A petitioner may change their Petition by amending it. Prior to the Response being filed by the other party, they may do so freely. After a Response is filed, they must get leave of Court to amend their Petition.
Amicus Brief
A brief filed in a case by someone (usually an organization) who is not a party to the appeal to advocate for the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to adopt a certain position.
An accounting term which means to convert a figure into an annual rate, or yearly average. Both the Child Support Guidelines and Spousal Maintenance Guidelines require Courts to annualize seasonal or fluctuating income by looking at what someone earned over the past few years and take an average. For example, let’s say Melissa, in her role as a seasonal accountant, made $40,000 in 2021, $35,000.00 in 2022, and $15,000.00 in 2023. The Court can annualize her income by taking the average of those three years, which is $30,000.00. ASMG § III(A)(1)(d); CSG § II(A)(1)(c). The Child Support Guidelines also annualize expenses for childcare, education, and extraordinary child expenses. CSG § III(B)(4-6). For child support, the annualization is also meant to ensure “that each month's child support obligation is increased or decreased in an equal monthly amount, instead of the obligation for particular months being abated, increased, or decreased.” CSG § III(B)(7).
An Answer is also known as a Response to a Petition; it sets forth the Respondent’s issues on a Petition.
Answering Brief
This is the brief filed in response to the Opening Brief in an appeal. It is filed by Appellee and is the only Brief the Appellee gets to file.
AOS (Acceptance of Service)
This document, when signed in front of a notary and filed with the Court, completes the required service of a Petition. This avoids being served the Petition by a process server. Attorneys may sign an Acceptance of Service on behalf of their clients except attorneys may not sign for Protective Orders or Petitions for Contempt. For initial Petitions in Family Court, the date the AOS was signed is the date the community is severed and thus anything accumulated after the date of service is considered sole and separate. See ARFLP Rule 40(f).
An apostille authenticates official documents, i.e., it is a document, signed by a government official, to verify to other governments that the seals and signatures on a document are legitimate. Certain countries, including India and the UAE, require divorce decrees going through an attestation process, which includes a certification from the clerk of Court and an apostille issued by the Arizona Secretary of State. More information is available on the State Department’s website and from the Arizona Secretary of State.
This is how you challenge a ruling your judge made in the Court of Appeals. It starts by filing a Notice of Appeal in the superior court. The judge becomes your opposing party.
This is the party that initiates the appeal.
This is the party that is defending the appeal.
Application and Affidavit for Attorney’s Fees
These are the documents by which a party requests a certain amount be awarded to them for their attorney’s fees. This is generally prepared after the Court has already determined that a party may be entitled to some or all of their attorney’s fees.
Apportionment Rule
When the sole and separate property generates profits or increases in value during the marriage due to marital labor, the Court determines how to divide those profits and increases between the separate property and the community property. The goal is to achieve substantial justice between the parties. Cockrill v. Cockrill, 124 Ariz. 50, 54 (1979). See All-or-Nothing Rule. 
The parties can elect to have their case decided by an arbitrator.
In an appeal or motion, this is the main section of the Brief where you make your arguments. It is usually divided into subparts for each argument you make.
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(1), “the total unpaid support owed, including child support, past support, spousal maintenance and interest.”
A more informal way of saying “arrearage.” See Arrearage.
At Issue
Something the Court must decide, e.g., “At issue is whether Mother violated the Preliminary Injunction …" is the same as saying “The Court must decide whether Mother violated the Preliminary Injunction.”
ATLAS number
This is the number used by the state to track child support cases. Every child support case has one, and it is different than the case number assigned to that case by the Courts.
A requirement imposed by certain countries that official documents be certified by public officials before they will be recognized in that country. This includes for Divorce Decrees. This generally requires a certification from the Clerk of Court and an apostille issued by the Arizona Secretary of State.
Attorney of record
The attorney who is legally representing a client and is recognized through the Clerk of the Court as the responsible attorney. An attorney cannot file documents on a client’s behalf or represent the client at a hearing if the attorney has not filed a Notice of Appearance with the Court and is not listed as the attorney of record.
Attorney standard
When people represent themselves in Court, they are held to an attorney standard, i.e., they are expected to know the law and follow the rules of procedure. As the saying goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
Attorney-client privilege
An evidentiary standard about whether the privileged conversations and emails between an attorney and client can be used as evidence in a court proceeding. It is different than an attorney’s ethical duty of confidentiality, which is to keep confidential all information the attorney learns in representing the client.
Attributed income
Income that “is not actually earned or received but is an assigned income based on a court finding that the amount attributed should be used to calculate combined Spousal Maintenance Income.” ASMG § III(B)(1). In other words, money does not actually make, but because they are capable of making that income, the Court will assign that income level to them when inputting their income onto the Child Support Worksheet and/or Spousal Maintenance Calculator.
Authentication Certificate
A document that assures the receiving jurisdiction that the official documents received from another jurisdiction are legitimate. This can occur through certified copies, apostilles, seals and signatures, and notarizations. Requirements may vary by jurisdiction and document type.
Automatic Stay
When a bankruptcy is filed, certain proceedings involving the debtor (the person filing bankruptcy) are automatically stayed. This includes a divorce where division of property remains an outstanding issue. In that case, nothing can be done until the bankruptcy has been completed.
A statement made by an attorney during a trial. Parties can also choose to proceed by avowal, meaning that their attorneys make statements at the trial in lieu of testimony. This option, though, is not available if a credibility determination is required.
A tax term describing the price a taxpayer paid to acquire a property. When a property or asset is sold, basis is deducted from the selling price to determine whether there is a taxable gain or loss. For items awarded in a divorce, those items are not taxed as part of the divorce transfer, but the basis for the spouse receiving the property is the same as the spouse’s adjusted basis, or, essentially, the original purchase price remains the basis.
Best Evidence Rule
A requirement that parties only use original documents for evidence. However, exceptions can be made when the document is unavailable. See Rule 1002 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence. This rule generally does not apply in family law proceedings unless one party invokes Rule 2. See Invoking the Rule and ARFLP Rule 2.
Best Friend of a Child
A non-parent of certain status who is allowed to bring a paternity or maternity proceeding under A.R.S. §§ 25-803 and 25-806. The term is not defined by statute or case law. Context and laws of other states suggest that this is a person who may bring a paternity or maternity action and temporarily act as a guardian ad litem until a guardian ad litem is formally appointed.
Best Interest Attorney (BIA)
This is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the interests of the child (but they do not necessarily represent the child). Best Interest Attorneys are most commonly—but not always—appointed in cases where there are allegations of abuse.
Best Interest Factors
These are a set of factors that a Court must consider whenever determining legal decision-making or parenting time. The Court must make written findings. The factors are found in A.R.S. § 25-403.
Best Interests
This is the legal standard of proof in child custody cases. It means that you must show that whatever you are requesting is in the best interest of the child.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
This is a legal burden of proof the state must meet to convict someone of a crime in criminal court. It is not the standard of proof used in family law cases. Family law cases use a best interests standard for issues involving children,  a preponderance of the evidence standard for most other issues except for a select few that specifically require “clear and convincing evidence,” I.e, evidence that is reasonably certain.
Bifurcated Divorce
It’s where different parts of the divorce are handled by different courts. For example, in In re Marriage of Peck, 242 Ariz. 345 (App. 2017), the Court of Appeals found that Arizona lacked personal jurisdiction over Wife that is necessary for Arizona to divide marital property, but Arizona had jurisdiction to end the marriage (which requires only that one party be domiciled in Arizona for 90 days). The Court of Appeals ruled, in that case, Arizona could terminate the marriage, but it lacked jurisdiction to divide the property.
Bilateral Transmutation
When the parties agree to transform one spouse’s sole and separate property into community property. See also Transmutation and Unilateral Transmutation.
These are the documents that each party files to make their case to the Court of Appeals. These tend to be lengthy, well-researched, heavily cited documents. The parts of a Brief include the Title Page, Table of Contents, Table of Authorities, Statement of the Case, Background, Issues Presented, Argument, Request for Attorney’s Fees, and Conclusion.
Business day
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(2), “a day when state offices are open for regular business.” See Judicial Day. See also ARFLP Rule 4(a).
Case number
Every family law case in Arizona is assigned a case number; the number used to identify the case by the Court system. In Maricopa County, all family law cases are assigned either an “FC” or “FN” number—FC cases involved children; FN cases do not. Family court was formerly referred to as Domestic Relations so old cases may have a “DR” prefix to them.
Cause of action
The reason someone is starting a new case. For example, in a divorce case, the cause of action would be to end the marriage.
Certificate of Compliance
This is a document you file with the Court of Appeals with the Brief in which you certify that your Brief stayed under the Word Count and that you used Times New Roman, 14-point font.
Certificate of Service
This is a document that you file with the Court whenever you file a Brief, Motion, Response, Objection, Transcript, etc. It certifies you’ve provided a copy to the other side.
Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP)
A mortgage lender certified by the Divorce Lending Association as someone who possesses specialized knowledge about lending to individuals who are divorcing or just recently were divorced.
Change of Judge
When a party requests a new judge be assigned to the case under ARFLP Rule 6. Each party can do this one time, subject to the limitations and deadlines of Rule 6.
Change of Judge for cause
When a party requests a judge recuse themselves due to a conflict or bias. The reasons need to be one of those listed in A.R.S. § 12-409(B). See ARFLP Rule 6.1. 
Character of property
A property’s “character” describes whether it is classified as community or separate property.
Characterization of property
The process by which property owned by the spouses is classified as community or separate property. Arizona law emphasizes when the property was acquired in this classification; whereas, traditional Spanish law, the origin of Arizona’s community property laws, emphasized how the property was acquired. Some of that Spanish tradition remains in the exceptions to community property (gifts and inheritance) and special carve-outs of community property (e.g., property acquired by lucrative title).
Child Support
By law, every person has a duty to support their biological or adopted children. See A.R.S § 25-501(A). This applies without or without a court order. The term “child support,” though, generally refers the Court-ordered amount one parent is required to pay to the other parent.
Child Support Calculation
This is the official calculation that the state produces every four years for calculating child support. Courts and attorneys use this calculation to determine the ongoing child support amount.
Child Support Calculator
An online tool that people can use to see how much they potentially owe for child support. This tends to be as reliable as the information put into the Child Support Worksheet.
Child Support Clearinghouse
This is the state agency that processes and tracks all child support payments. Though far from perfect, the Clearinghouse’s records can help parties avoid substantial litigation from fighting over whether child support was paid.
Child Support Clearinghouse Calculation
A combination of both payment history, arrears owed, and interest owed, the Clearinghouse Calculation gives both parties an idea of exactly how much child support is owed. In a case on arrears, it is prima facie evidence of what is owed—that means the Clearinghouse Calculation will determine how much is owed unless a party can convince the judge that the Clearinghouse made a mistake in its calculation (and that does happen from time to time).
Child Support Guidelines
A set of guidelines, prepared by a committee of attorneys and judges who review Arizona’s child support statutes, to help judges, attorneys, and litigants understand and calculate child support. A.R.S. § 25-500(3) defines the Guidelines as “the child support guidelines that are adopted by the state supreme court.”
Child Support Income
The parent’s income on which they must pay child support. As defined by Arizona Child Support Guideline § II-A-1(b), “Child Support Income includes income from any source before any deductions or withholdings.  Child Support Income may include salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, military pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits (subject to Section VII.B), workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability benefits, military disability benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance.”
Child Support Order
The order signed by the judge for child support, which besides providing the amount of child support paid each month, directs how child support should be paid, how unreimbursed medical expenses will be divided, and which parent can claim the child on taxes each tax year. The order may also include orders regarding expenses for extracurricular activities, day care, or private school tuition.
Child Support Subpoena
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(4), it means “a subpoena issued pursuant to section 25-520.” That section refers to the Department of Economic Security’s ability to subpoena anyone who may hold information necessary to establish, modify, or enforce child support.
Child support worksheet
This refers to an Excel spreadsheet that contains Arizona’s Child Support Calculation. Attorneys and judges can use the Child Support Worksheet to figure out how much child support is owed. A Child Support Worksheet, which can be a print of the Excel document or an online Child Support Calculator, is required to be filed with certain items, including a Parenting Plan.
Child’s attorney
An attorney who has been appointed by the Court to represent the wishes of the child. Though permitted by Rule 10, it is rare that a court appoints a child’s attorney in a custody case.
China Doll Affidavit
This is an Affidavit signed by an attorney as part of an Application for Attorneys Fees. The name comes from the case, Schweiger v. China Doll Restaurant, Inc., 138 Ariz. 183 (App. 1983), in which the Court of Appeals discussed the standards an attorney’s billing must meet in order to qualify for an award of attorney’s fees.
Choice of law
Parties to a contract may agree to have a certain state’s laws apply to that contract in the event of future litigation. Most commonly in family law, prenuptial agreements have choice of law provisions. See Nanini v. Nanini, 166 Ariz. 287 (App. 1990) (upholding provision in prenuptial agreement that the Agreement would be governed by Illinois law).
Clear and convincing evidence
Certain issues in family law require clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is generally defined as evidence that is highly probable or reasonably certain. Kent K. v. Bobby M., 210 Ariz. 279 (2005).
Closely held stock
When a company is predominantly owned by either one shareholder or a small number of shareholders. In a business valuation during a divorce, closely held stock may be subject a marketability discount. The opposite is widely held stock where the stock is owned by many investors.
A principle under which an Arizona court will recognize the judicial acts of a foreign court out of courtesy and respect for the foreign court. This applies to divorces made in other countries, so long as that country afforded each party due process.
A fund or asset in which the money paid into it is a mix of separate and community funds such that it cannot be distinguished as to what part is community and what is separate. In that instance, the entire fund or asset is considered community unless the community transactions can be properly traced out.
A commissioner is a judicial officer who decides single-issue matters, such as how much child support should be or whether an Order of Protection should be granted. The difference between a commissioner and a judge is largely procedural, and an order made by a commissioner has the same effect and impact as an order made by a judge.
Community Funds
Money belonging to the marital community, or, more generally, any money either party earned during the marriage. The community funds can refer to the parties’ cash on hand or the funds used to purchase or pay on particular item. When community funds are used to purchase something, it is presumed community. When community funds are used to pay on property that is community property, the marital community gets a “lien” against that property.
Community labor
Any work either spouse conducts during the marriage. The paychecks for that work is considered to be community property.
Community lien
When community funds are used to pay for an asset, its loan/mortgage installments, or improvements on one spouse’s sole and separate asset, the marital community has a lien on the property. The spouse who owns that property must reimburse the other spouse one-half the amount of that lien at the time of divorce.
Community property
This is property that belongs equally to both spouses. It includes any property, asset, or liability either party acquires during the marriage with the exception of property acquired by gift or inheritance. Parties can opt out of community property laws with a prenuptial agreement or by getting legally separated. One commentator defined community property as the “system whereby the wealth which [the spouses] possess is common, belonging to both by halves.” Vaughn, “The Policy of Community Property and Inter-Spousal Transactions,” 19 Baylor L. Rev. 20 (1967).
Community property with right of survivorship
A way married couple can own property that is a variant of joint tenancy with right of survivorship. The difference between community property with right of survivorship and joint tenancy with right of survivorship is how taxes are calculated for the half the survivor. To calculate a profit or loss for taxes, you subtract what the taxpayer paid for the property (aka basis) from the price the taxpayer sold the property for. The basis for joint tenancy with right of survivorship is the value at the time the couple first acquires the home; the basis for community property with right of survivorship is the value at the time of the owner’s death.
Conciliation Court
This is a court designated under Arizona law to assist families going through a divorce or child custody by (1) providing divorcing couple a chance to reconcile, and (2) helping parties resolve disputes amicably. These are accomplished through Petitions for Conciliation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Conciliation Services
A division of the Court dedicated to helping litigants resolve disputes. Conciliation Services generally provides mediation services, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, court-ordered mediation, Early Resolution Conferences, and Open Negotiations. They also provide a service where they attempt to help divorcing couples reconcile. See Conciliation Services Forms.
Conformed Copy
A filing that bears the stamp of Court indicating that it was received by the Court.
Consent Decree
When the parties agree on all issues in a divorce, they draft and submit a Consent Decree. The Consent Decree should contain all the parties’ agreements on all the outstanding issues. Where children are involved, a Parenting Plan must be included with the Consent Decree. If property is involved, a Property Settlement Agreement is also commonly used. The parties review the documents, and once everyone is satisfied with the language, the parties sign it in front of a notary. If they are represented, their attorney also signs it. Once the Court signs it, it becomes an order of the Court and the parties are officially divorced.
What a party is required to give up under the terms of a contract. Both sides must have consideration in order for a contract to be valid and enforceable. For example, A and B agree that A will walk B’s dog for $10. A’s consideration is the $10 that A is giving; B’s consideration is the time B is giving up time to walk the dog. But if, instead, the agreement was only the A gives B $10, and B is not required to do anything, then they do not have an enforceable contract because B has no consideration.
When pending cases or petitions involve the same parties, child, or question of law or fact, the Court may consolidate the cases or petitions into one proceeding. See ARFLP Rule 5.
An action taken to punish someone for not complying with a Court order when they had means to do so. Frequently filed with a Petition to Enforce.
Court of Appeals
This is the Court that hears appeals and special actions from the decisions made by the superior court. A panel of three judges reviews each appeal and issues a ruling. The Arizona Supreme Court is the only state court higher than the Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals Division One
Court of Appeals Division One is located west of downtown Phoenix near the state capital and in the same building as the Arizona Supreme Court, this Court hears appeals from the superior courts of Apache, Coconino, LaPaz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Yavapai, and Yuma Counties.
Court of Appeals Division Two
Court of Appeals Division Two.  Located in Tucson, this Court hears appeals from the superior courts in Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz Counties.
Court-Appointed Advisor (CAA)
This is a professional appointed by the Court, usually either a psychologist or a social worker, whose role is to interview the parties, the children, and relevant witnesses and make a recommendation to the Court regarding the custodial issues of legal decision-making and parenting time. They are primarily used to investigate situations where the fitness of one or more parents is at issue; however, best interests attorneys are generally preferred over CAA’s in cases where abuse is alleged. They are appointed under Rule 10.1 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
Covenant marriage
A specific kind of marriage that a couple can choose to form in accordance with A.R.S. § 25-901. Unlike a regular marriage, a covenant marriage can only be dissolved under the grounds listed in A.R.S. § 25-903, and a legal separation can only be granted under the grounds listed in A.R.S. § 25-904.
Credit Report
A document that shows a party’s open debts, lines of credit, and credit card score. If requested and approved by the Court, you can request your spouse’s credit report from a credit reporting agency; this may help you identify assets and debts that your spouse has not disclosed to you. See A.R.S. § 25-318(H) and (I).
Someone to whom the marital community owes money.
When a witness is questioned on the stand, under oath, by the party who did not call the witness. Cross-examination almost always follows a direct-examination.
Date of Service
This is the date a Petition is actually served on the Responding party. The date of service is significant in three respects legally: (1) for all petitions, it is the date from which the time for the Responding Party to file an Answer begins to run. (2) For divorce, legal separation, or annulment actions, it is the date the marital community ends--so long as the divorce is eventually finalized on that Petition. (3) For dissolution or legal separation where spousal maintenance is an issue, it is the date the marriage ends for purposes of calculating the length of the marriage as part of the Spousal Maintenance Calculation.
Debt distribution plan
A plan for how the community debts will be paid and who will pay them. Under A.R.S. § 25-318(J), upon the request of a party, the court must require the parties to submit a debt distribution plan.
Declaratory Judgment
A ruling issued by the Court, upon a party’s request, to determine the rights and obligations of the parties under a contract or Agreement they have signed. The purpose of a declaratory judgment is to avoid lawsuits and instead intervene and clarify the terms of the Agreement before full-scale litigation ensues. While extremely rare in family law, the rules do allow for declaratory judgments. See ARFLP Rule 80.
When a party does not file an Answer, the other party can file an Application and Motion for Default and request all the items they listed in their Petition. The Motion for Default must be provided to the opposing party, and they are given ten (10) more days to respond. After that, the Default can be granted.
As referenced in A.R.S. § 25-500(5), “Department,” when used in the child support laws, refers to the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
This is where a party is able to ask the other party, another witness (with leave of court), or a court-appointed professional questions under oath. Depositions generally can last a maximum of four hours. The person requesting the deposition must provide and pay for the services of a court reporter.
An inheritance received through intestacy, i.e., through the estate of someone who died without a will. Property acquired this way during the marriage is an exception to community property laws provided they are kept separate from any community accounts, or, if mixed with community account, the funds are traceable. See A.R.S. § 25-211(A). See Intestacy, Devise, Commingled, and Tracing.
When the Court orders a child support or spousal maintenance amount different than what is on the Child Support Worksheet and the Spousal Maintenance Calculator. While Courts rely heavily both on the Child Support Worksheet and the Spousal Maintenance Calculator, the Court does not have to necessarily use the numbers produced by these documents. The Court must make written findings as to why it is not following the Worksheet or Calculator, including stating what the number would have been had they followed the calculation. For child support, the Court must also find the deviation is the child's best interests. For spousal maintenance, the Court must find the application of the Guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust.
An inheritance received through a will. Property acquired this way during the marriage is an exception to community property laws provided they are kept separate from any community accounts, or, if mixed with community account, the funds are traceable. See A.R.S. § 25-211(A). See Descent, Commingled, and Tracing. 
Direct examination
This is where a party asks questions of a witness they called to the stand. Direct examination is almost always followed by a cross-examination.
Following Rule 49, this is when you provide documents, evidence, and information regarding your case to the other side. Any evidence you want to use must be disclosed to the other side. Disclosure is not filed with the court.
Governed by Rules 51 to 65 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, this is the formal process of acquiring information that you need to put on your case. This includes options like interrogatories (written questions), depositions, subpoenas, and Requests for Productions. Discovery is not filed with the Court.
This is the Court’s word for a divorce. It means the marriage is dissolved or terminated and each party is now a single person. Arizona treats dissolution and divorce synonymously (in some other jurisdictions, a dissolution is when marriage ends by mutual agreement, and a divorce is where the parties don’t agree to end the marriage).
Division (courts)
A division of the court refers to an individual judge’s courtroom and calendar.
Division of property
A general term referring to how the parties’ debts and assets will be allocated in a divorce decree.
Divorce with minor children
A divorce in which the parties have minor children in common. The children can be the parties’ biological or adopted children. In a divorce with the children, the issues of legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support must be addressed, and a Parenting Plan will be submitted with the Consent Decree.
Divorce without minor children
A divorce in which the parties do not have any minor children in common. If the parties have a minor stepchild, a minor foster child, or adult children but no minor children common to them, they would file a divorce without children.
The Court’s chronological record of filings and calendar of hearings in a case. Dockets are publicly available online (although the documents themselves are not).
Domestic violence
For an action to be considered domestic violence, it must (1) be an act that meets the standard for the criminal offense of one of the following: homicide, attempted murder, assault, theft, criminal damage to property, trespassing, stalking, voyeurism, or harassment, and (2) the perpetrator and victim must have a relationship that is either familial or romantic. See A.R.S. § 13-3601 for more specifics.
A domicile is different than and more than merely residing somewhere. A person is domiciled in the jurisdiction where they are physically present with the intent to remain, and they remain domiciled there until they physical relocate to that new place with the intent to remain there. For instance, Scott has been living in Arizona for the past three years. Scott is sent to New York to reside there for six months for corporate training, but he intends to return to Arizona. Scott is domiciled in Arizona. He may be “physically present” in New York, but he does not intend to remain in New York; he intends to be in Arizona. In contrast, Maria is moving from San Francisco to Phoenix. Just a mile short of the state line in Nevada, her car breaks down. At that point, Maria is not domiciled in Arizona because she is not yet physically present. The moment she crosses the state line with that intent to remain, she will be domiciled in Arizona. Until that moment occurs, she remains a domiciliary of California.
Drahos calculation
This is a formula used to calculate a community lien on a property. The calculation is C + [(C/B) x A] where C = contributions to principal, B = purchase price, and A = appreciation.  Each spouse is entitled to half of the resulting calculation. Put another way: it requires the property-owning spouse to pay the other spouse half the community’s contributions in principal plus a percentage of the appreciation in proportion to the community’s contribution to the overall purchase of the home.
Due process
This is a constitutional right to have a fair court proceeding—or, in other words, to have one’s day in Court. This generally means two things: (1) Each party has notice of any claim being made against them, and (2) they have the opportunity to be heard on the issue in meaningful time and meaningful manner. This right is protected by the Federal and state constitutions
Early Resolution Conference
When both parties are unrepresented, the Early Resolution Conference (ERC) is the first “hearing” the Court sets. It’s actually not a hearing at all; it’s a mediation with a member of the Court’s staff to see if the parties can reach any agreements.
Ecclesiastical-abstention doctrine
A legal doctrine that Courts may not get into matters of religious doctrine when deciding cases. From a family law perspective, this case arose in Ball v. Ball, 250 Ariz. 273 (App.2020), a case in which the issue was whether The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was sufficiently “Christian” to satisfy the Parenting Plan’s requirement that the child be taken to a Christian church. The trial court determined it was not. The Court of Appeals reversed and held that under the ecclesiastical-abstention doctrine, the Court should not have engaged in this analysis.
Eligibility (for Spousal Maintenance)
The requesting spouse meets at least one of the factors enumerated under A.R.S. § 25-319(A). ASMG § 1(D).
An action undertaken to get someone to comply with a court order. It is frequently combined with a Petition for Contempt.
Entitlement (for Spousal Maintenance)
The court's determination that a party eligible for spousal maintenance should be awarded spousal maintenance. “After calculating the spousal maintenance amount under the Guidelines, and if the court determines the application of the Guidelines is just and appropriate, the Court must award the party spousal maintenance.” ASMG § 1(D)
Equitable Defenses
In certain instances, a party can raise one of several equitable defenses to request relief from the Court. The equitable defenses apply when the statutes and rules don’t necessarily provide a defense, but there’s a reason why ruling in favor of the other party would be unjust.
Equitable Distribution
See Equitable Division.
Equitable Division
As required by A.R.S. § 25-318(A), the Court is to divide community property “equitably.” Generally, this means equally, but the Court can do an unequal division whenever fairness requires. Toth v. Toth, 190 Ariz. 218, 221 (1997). The Arizona Supreme Court explained that “equitable” is a concept of fairness that must be applied on a case-by-case basis, but in most cases, an equal division is what is most equitable. Id.
Equity is a principle that permits the Court to apply certain principles in order to achieve a just and fair result. The applications the Court may employ are called equitable defenses. Arizona’s family law courts are courts of equity. Atkinson v. Atkinson, 405 P.2d 919, 921 (1965).
A federal law designed to promote uniformity in how employer-provided benefits are distributed to employees. Of relevance to family law, ERISA supersedes Arizona’s Revocation-upon-Divorce statute. Under ERISA, if you named your spouse as the beneficiary of a plan, they remain the beneficiary even after a divorce. ERISA applies to items like a pension, 401k, and other employer-provided benefits.
This is the procedure for how children are transferred from one parent’s care to the other when custody is shared. An exchange procedure must be included in any Parenting Plan.
For a hearing or trial, an exhibit is documentation introduced to the Court to be used as evidence for Trial. Exhibits can also be attachments to motions, pleadings, letters, etc. in support of the document.
Extracurricular activities
These are activities the child may participate in, such as Little League baseball, dance classes, piano lessons, soccer, science day camps, etc. They are relevant to a family law proceeding as they relate to reimbursement for those activities. Generally, both parties are responsible for agreed-upon extracurricular activities.
Extraordinary care expenses
These are costs incurred for a child who is either gifted or has special needs that require the parents spend more money what is typically necessary for the needs of a child. Typically, such expenses need to be agreed upon in order to be included, but the Court can order their inclusion. CSG § III(B)(6).
Extraordinary work regiment
A defense available to a parent who is working overtime or a second job to ask the Court to not include those extra hours and wages as income for child support purposes. See Arizona Child Support Guideline § II-A(3)(b).
Extrinsic Evidence
Another term for parol evidence, evidence that is used to clarify meaning in an agreement between the parties. Extrinsic evidence is generally not allowed.
Family Law
A term that describes divorce proceedings, child custody proceedings, or child support proceedings. The term does include grandparent rights and other third-party rights cases where either visitation is sought or legal decision-making and placement are sought. The following are not considered to be family law under Arizona’s use of the term: adoptions, termination of parental rights, minor guardianship, dependencies (cases in which DCS has removed a child), adult guardianships, contests over a will, probate proceedings, and property disputes between a couple who used to reside together.
Family Law Master
As defined by Rule 74(a), “An attorney or other professional with education, experience, and special expertise regarding the particular issues referred to the master.” A family law master can be appointed by stipulation or court order and can decide any issue except those related to the custodial issues of parenting time and legal decision-making.
Family Law Proceeding
A proceeding brought in regards to divorce or child custody; more technically, a court proceeding filed under Title 25 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Family Support
A general term for when spousal maintenance and child support are ordered together but the amounts are not separated by the order. This is generally only permitted with temporary orders.
Fault Divorce
This is a requirement that a divorce can only be granted if there is some sort of fault by one of the spouses, such as a spouse committed adultery. Arizona is a no-fault state unless the parties entered into a covenant marriage. Because it is a no-fault, Arizona courts will not get into the reasons why a marriage fell apart.
Final Legal Decision-Making Authority
If the court orders joint legal decision-making with one parent having final decision-making authority, the parties must attempt to agree on all decisions related to the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, or personal care, but if they can’t reach agreements, the parent with final decision-making authority gets to make the decision.
Findings of Fact
The Court’s findings as to what facts are true or not true.
This means the parent can safely watch the child. In Troxel v. Granville, the U.S. Supreme Court defined a fit parent as who “adequately cares for his or her children.”
Fitness Concerns
This describes concerns about whether a parent can safely watch the child or can adequately meet the child’s needs. Typical fitness concerns include substance abuse, domestic violence, severe mental health issues, etc. But less serious concerns can be considered by the Court if it shows the child would not receive adequate care while in one parent’s care.
Fluctuating Income
Income that varies from month to month. Fluctuating income is annualized for both child support and spousal maintenance. In other words, the Courts take an average of what was earned over the past few years in that season income.
Foreign Order
An order issued by any Court outside of Arizona. This includes courts of other states.
Fraud involves knowingly making a false statement or misrepresentation (more simply, lying). Failing to make a truthful statement may also constitute fraud in some circumstances (lying by omission). Depending on the context, fraud may result in a criminal charge and/or a civil lawsuit.
Fraud Upon the Court
Fraud upon the court (also referred to as “fraud on the court”) is exactly what it sounds like—someone commits fraud relating to a judicial matter. A family law example of fraud upon the court would be failing to disclose the existence of payments of thousands of dollars to the court and opposing party in a spousal support matter. See McNeil v. Hoskyns.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
Full Faith and Credit ClauseThis is a clause in the United State Constitution requiring states to honor the judicial acts of other states.
The Spanish system of law regarding marital property. It’s the common ancestor of all community property systems within the United States. It viewed property acquired before marriage as separate, and property acquired during marriage as community.
Gift Bonus
A bonus given by an employer to an employee out of the employer’s “charity, affection, liberality or the like” and not as compensation for services rendered. Such bonuses are considered to be gifts and are usually not considered to be community property, particularly if they are received after the date of service. See also Remuneratory.
Good Faith Consultation Certificate
A certified statement that the party filing a motion for certain sanctions has made good faith efforts to resolve the issue with the other party before filing. It is governed by ARFLP Rule 9(c). Required, by certain rules, to be filed for certain motions, including a Motion to Compel.
“An asset, intangible in form, which is an element responsible for profits in a business. It has also been defined as, in its broadest sense, reputation.” Wisner v. Wisner, 129 Ariz. 333, 337, 631 P.2d 115, 119 (App. 1981). It’s the idea that when a business has been operating for a while, its reputation has value that draws in repeat customers.
Gratuitous title
A synonym of lucrative title. It is property acquired during the marriage without the use of marital labor. It is generally considered to be separate property as a result.
Gray divorce
A divorce involving a couple where both parties are over 50 and they do not have any minor children.
Gross income
While it generally means an individual’s total earnings before deductions and taxes. Under § II-A(1)(a) of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, the meaning of the term “gross income” for child support purposes does not have the same meaning it does for tax purposes.
Habitual residence
The jurisdictional standard, under The Hague Convention, for which country can exercise jurisdiction over a child for purposes of determining custodial issues.
The legal definition of hearsay is a statement made out of court that is offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. See Rule 801(c) of the Arizona Rules of Evidence. More simply, it’s going into court and telling the judge something someone else told you. In most court systems, the rules of evidence preclude hearsay evidence from being considered (unless an exception applies). In family court, under ARFLP Rule 2(b), hearsay is permitted unless someone invokes ARFLP Rule 2(a), which requires the Court to use all the Rules of Evidence, including the hearsay rules.
A citation shorthand that refers to the immediately preceding legal authority. It is used when you cite again from the source you last cited to.
Imputed income
Also known as attributed income, this requires the Court, in a child support proceeding, to attribute a parent an amount of income if they are not sufficiently employed. It finds its basis in A.R.S. § 25-320(N), which reads, “The court shall presume, in the absence of contrary testimony, that a parent is capable of full-time employment at least at the applicable state or federal adult minimum wage, whichever is higher.” See also Child Support Guideline § II-A-4.
In camera
When the judge reviews materials or conducts certain judicial tasks outside the presence of the parties. One example is a child interview, which a Court is required to do in camera to record the interview under AFLP Rule 12.
In loco parentis
“A person who has been treated as a parent by a child and who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with a child for a substantial period of time.” A.R.S. § 25-401(1). Another way of looking at it: The child views a non-parent like they would a parent, usually requires the non-parent to be a primary caretaker of the child. A non-parent seeking legal decision-making and placement of a child under A.R.S. § 25-409(A) must show that they stand in loco parentis to the child.
Inception of Title
The rule that when determining whether a certain piece of property is community or separate, the Court looks for to when a spouse first obtained the right to hold title. This applies to situations such as, for example, a Husband buy a house the day before the marriage and receives the title after marriage. We judge it from the date he received the right to title (the purchase date), not the date he received title. And because that date is before the marriage, it is presumed to be sole and separate property. (If it was acquired by one of the spouses during the marriage, it is presumed to be community property. If it was acquired by one of the spouses before the marriage, it is presumed to be that spouse’s sole and separate.
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(6), “any form of payment owed to an individual, regardless of source, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, workers' compensation, disability payments, payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program and interest.” See also child support income and imputed income. 
Income Withholding Order (IWO)
A court order sent to an employer of someone obligated to pay child support or spousal maintenance, directing the employer to take the amount owed for support.
Incorporated but not merged
A Property Settlement Agreement may be referenced in a Consent Decree by using the phrase “incorporated but not merged.” This means the Court is adopting the Property Settlement Agreement as a final agreement between the parties, but the Property Settlement Agreement retains its contractual status separate from the Decree.
Indemnification Provision
A standard provision in every Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). This provision requires the spouse who is taking on a debt or obligation to “indemnify and hold harmless” the other spouse. In other words, if the PSA awards Wife a vehicle with a car loan on it and Wife defaults, and the creditor comes after Husband, Husband must pay, unfortunately. (The Decree is binding between the parties; it is not binding on third parties). But, under the indemnification clause, Wife is required to reimburse Husband.
Injunction Against Harassment (IAH)
A protective order where there is no familial or romantic relationship between the parties.
Insufficient process
One of the defenses that can be raised against a Petition under Rule 29(b)(6) of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. “Insufficient process” differs from the defense of “insufficient service of process” in that insufficient process complains of defects in the Petition, Summons, or other Initial documents and is not related to how the Petition was served.
Insufficient service of process
One of the defenses that can be raised against a Petition under Rule 29(b)(6) of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. “Insufficient service of process” differs from the defense of “insufficient process” in that insufficient service of process refers to a defect in how the paperwork was served on the responding party.
Intangible property
Property that is not physical or touchable in nature, such as cryptocurrency and intellectual property (trademarks and copyrights) and the goodwill of a business. See Tangible Property, Personal Property, and Real Property. 
This is a discovery tool where one party sends the other party questions for that party to answer under oath. There is generally a 40-day deadline for the responding party to answer and return their answers to interrogatories. See ARFLP Rule 60.
This term in family law refers to an outside party becoming an active party in a case. For example, a grandparent seeking third-party rights is the intervenor when father and mother are active participants in a case. See A.R.S. § 25-409
The process of dividing the estate of someone who died without a will. This can have a substantial impact on the surviving spouse’s share of the community property. See Intestate Succession.
Intestate Succession
The process through which a Court determines the heirs of someone who died without a will. When a married person dies without a will, their spouse (the surviving spouse) keeps their half of the community property and inherits at least half of deceased’s separate property. If the deceased is married with either no kids or all the deceased children are the children of the spouse, the spouse inherits everything. See A.R.S. § 14-2102(1). But if the married spouse has children that are not the surviving spouse’s children, those children and the spouse divide the deceased’s separate property, and the children get the deceased’s half of the community property. A.R.S. § 14-2102(2). See Intestacy. 
Invoke the Rules
When a party requests strict compliance with the Arizona Rules of Evidence under ARFLP Rule 2. This means the personal knowledge, hearsay, foundation, and best evidence rules. See Rule 2. 
Irreconcilable differences
This is a legal term that means the marriage cannot be saved.
Issues presented
This is the part of the Appellate Brief where you detail the questions you want the Court of Appeals to answer in making its ruling. They should be posed in the form of a question.
Item-theory state
States that require every piece of property be divided in half. Arizona rejects this approach. See Aggregate Theory State. 
IV-D Proceeding
In a child support matter where a child is receiving certain state benefits, the state becomes a party to the child support proceeding. Because the state is an additional party in the action, the child support hearing is held separately from other proceedings related to the child. The term IV-D refers to the section of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Act, a federal bill, that required states to hold IV-D hearings.
Joint legal decision-making
If the court orders joint legal decision-making, the parties must agree on all decisions related to the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, or personal care.
A judge is an individual appointed by the governor to resolve disputes between people in the Superior Court of Arizona. All divorce and child custody cases are tried in the superior court, and the judge is the one who decides what will happen.
A judgment is a court order that is a decision in a lawsuit.
A judgment is essentially a court order that is a decision in a lawsuit, though some technicalities apply. A judgment states the Court’s final decision and is certified as final under Rule 78. Judgments are enforceable, and may, in certain cases, be recordable as a lien against property.
Judgment Creditor
The party who is owed money from the other party under the judgment.
Judgment Debtor
The party who owes money to the other party under the judgment.
Judgment Debtor’s Exam
A legal proceeding in which the judgment creditor asks the judgment debtor questions under oath to determine what assets the judgment debtor has and where they are located. The purpose of the exam is to allow the judgment creditor the information they need to garnish, levy, lien, or seize the judgment debtor’s property to satisfy the judgment.
Judgment in personam
A judgment against a person, such as a judgment that imposes personal liability upon a person. In a divorce decree, the Court’s rulings on issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, and attorney’s fees are considered to be judgments in personam. See also Judgment in rem.
Judgment in rem
A judgment against a property, thing, or status. In a divorce decree, the Court’s rulings dissolving the marriage and dividing the property are considered judgments in rem.
Judicial Assistant
This is a person who does clerical work for the Court. Unlike the judge they can speak to parties to answer very simple procedural questions that requires no legal advice, such as whether a motion has been received. It is always important to respectful toward JA’s.
Judicial Day
Days that the Court are open; realistically, it’s the same as a business day. See Business Day and ARFLP Rule 4
Judicial rotation
In Maricopa County, judges are assigned to a particular division of the court for generally three-year periods, though this can vary. Judges can be assigned to family, juvenile, civil, criminal, or probate court, and a judge that serves for 15 years or more will typically spend time in each type of court. Because of this policy, it is possible your judge may change before your matter concludes.
The authority of a Court to hear and decide a certain issue. Each court’s ability to hear cases are defined either by a Constitutional provision, or, more commonly, by an Act of Congress (for Federal courts) or the state legislature (for state courts).
Leave of court
When leave of court applies, the party wanting to do something, such as amending a petition or taking the deposition of a non-party, must first get permission of the Court.
Leave to amend
When a party wants to change their Petition, and a Response has already been filed, they must seek leave of court to Amend their Petition. See ARFLP Rule 28(b).
Legal decision-making
This is the right to make decisions on behalf of the child when it comes to decisions involving the child’s health, education, religion, or personal care. It does not include the right to dictate the child’s parenting time schedule or place conditions on the other parent’s time. See A.R.S. 25-401(3).
Legal fiction
Something the law creates or accepts as a fact, even though it is not true, to achieve a particular result. An annulment, for example, is a legal fiction because in granting an annulment, the law refuses to recognize a marriage and treats the parties as though they were never married when, of course, there actually was a marriage.
Legal parent
A person who is the biological or adoptive parent of the child and whose rights have been established and not terminated. See A.R.S. § 25-401(4).  For biological mothers, such rights are established at birth. Fathers, though, must establish their rights to be a legal parent. See A.R.S. § 25-812(A). See also Presumptions of Paternity and Petitions to Establish.
Legal separation
A formal legal process that terminates the marital community, divides all the community property and liabilities, and determines custody if children are involved. The legal separation process is identical to the divorce process in every way except the parties are still married after a legal separation.
Long Distance Parenting Plan
A parenting plan for when parents reside in different states. The typical long distance parenting plan is a week during Winter Break (i.e., a week around Christmas or New Year’s), either Spring Break of Fall Break, and 3-6 weeks during summer.
Lucrative Title
Any property earned by means other than community labor and industry of the parties. This is generally considered to be separate property. The most common example is personal injury lawsuit proceeds for pain and suffering.
Mailing Certificate
This is usually found on the last page of any pleading notating who the document has been transmitted to and in accordance with the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
Marital Community
All property and debts the parties have acquired during the marriage. This includes houses, vehicles, bank accounts, businesses, retirement accounts, stock options, student loans, lines of credit, credit card debts, intellectual property, artwork, furnishings, pets, frequent flyer miles, credit card rewards, gold, silver, cryptocurrency, etc.
Market Capitalization
A business valuation method in which the number of outstanding shares are multiplied by the share price to determine the value of the company. The number arrived at is often described as “market cap.”
Marketability Discount
A business valuation method in which privately held shares are discounted because privately held shares of a business are much more difficult to sell than publicly traded shares. This discount also applies to restricted stock or closely held stock.
As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, “Having some logical connection with the consequential facts.” (Black’s 11th Ed., 2019). In essence, evidence or facts are material if, when proven or disproven, the outcome of the case may be affected. See Material Evidence, Material Fact, Consequential Fact, and Relevance. 
Material Change of Circumstance
A requirement, imposed by case law, that a parent trying to modify parenting time or legal decision-making must show that since the last order, something has changed in an important way that makes the current orders no longer in the children’s best interest.
Material Evidence
Evidence that helps prove or disprove a fact that is consequential to the trial. In other words, it is evidence that helps prove—and win—one’s case. To be admitted at trial, evidence must be both material and relevant.
Material Fact
A fact that helps prove or disprove one’s case. Think of “material” as meaning “relevant and important.” For example, if you’re trying to prove a car was purchased during the marriage, the date it was purchased is a material fact.
A common settlement method where the parties use a mediator, a neutral third party, to negotiate a settlement. Family law mediations usually involve the mediator meeting separately with each party and their attorneys. Mediation is often highly effective.
This is a ruling by the Court of Appeals that resolves the case but does not create case law that other courts must follow in similar circumstances. See Opening Brief
Minority Share Discount
A business valuation method in which a minority stakeholder’s shares are discounted because they do not have control of the business. The principle is intended to recognize the principle that where control over the business is lacking, the shares are more difficult to move and also less desirable to potential investors; the discount, therefore, is meant to reflect the economic reality of being a minority shareholder.
Minute Entry
These are documents issued by the Court as part of the official court record. A Minute Entry can serve many purposes including ruling on motions or trials, summarizing the record from a hearing, setting forth orders of the court, clarifying a prior ruling, appointing an expert to investigate a certain matter, etc.
An action made to change a current court order. Modifications commonly involve parenting time, legal decision-making, child support, or spousal maintenance.
Money Judgment
When the Court enters a judgment that one party owes another party a certain amount, that judgment can then be used in a variety of ways—it can be recorded against the owing party’s real estate, it can be used to garnish the owing party’s wages, or it can be used to seize the owing party’s property, including bank accounts and vehicles. These options are all on the table until the person owes money pays up.
A document filed in an already existing case that makes a specific request to the Court.
Motion to Compel
A request that is filed when a party is not complying with the rules of discovery or disclosure. It must contain a good faith consultation certificate that the person filing tried to resolve the issue with opposing party before filing. Motions to Compel are governed by Rule 65(a) and the sanctions that can be sought are those listed in Rule 65(b).
Motion to Continue
A request for the Court to change an upcoming hearing to a later date for reasons such as incomplete disclosure or discovery processes, a conflict, illness, etc.
Motion to Set
A request that the Court set a trial date. The person filing avows that all discovery and disclosure is complete.
No-Fault Divorce
This is a law—and it is the law in Arizona—that a couple may be divorced for any reason. Courts will not get into why a marriage fell apart.
Non-Covenant Marriage
This is any marriage in Arizona where the parties did not voluntary opt in to a covenant marriage. In other words, it is a marriage where the parties can seek a divorce for any reason. The fault provisions do not apply.  Almost all marriages in Arizona are non-covenant marriages.
Non-Uniform Interrogatories
This is a discovery option where one party can pose questions to the other party that must be answered under oath. Unlike Uniform Interrogatories, these questions are drafted by the person asking them and can be very specific.
This is the Constitutional right to be informed of any filings that are made against you in Court, including petitions, motions, and other pleadings.
Notice of Appeal
This is a document filed in the superior court that a party will be appealing the Court’s ruling. See ARCAP Rule 8 and ARCAP Rule 9. The filing of the Notice of Appeal starts the appeal.
Notice of Appearance
This is the document an attorney files with the Court to make the Court and opposing party or counsel aware that they will be acting as the attorney of record for the client.
Notice of Change of Judge
Each party gets one opportunity to strike the judge assigned to their case under ARFLP Rule 6. They must file, though, before the judge holds a hearing or makes a ruling. See ARFLP Rule 6 for deadlines and limitations.
Notice of Settlement
A filing made to the Court to notify the Court that the parties have reached a settlement. If the matter has been set for a final trial, the parties must notify the Court promptly under ARFLP Rule 70(a). The parties must present a final judgment, decree, or order to the Court within 45 days of the Notice under ARFLP Rule 70(b).
Notice of Withdrawal
This is the document an attorney files with the Court to make the Court and opposing party aware that they will no longer be acting as the attorney of record for the client.
When a witness is sworn that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Those conscientiously objecting to an oath may enter into a solemn affirmation instead under ARFLP Rule 15. See Solemn Affirmation. 
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(7), “a person obligated to pay support,” i.e., someone who is, by court order, the recipient of either child support or spousal maintenance. When the state provides state benefits to a child, they can be designated as the recipient of child support.
As defined by A.R.S. § 25-500(8), “a person or agency entitled to receive support,” i.e., someone ordered to pay either child support or spousal maintenance.
Onerous Title
A description of how property is acquired. If one spouse exchanges their labor for money or property, they acquired such money or property via community labor, and the property is community property. Compare to lucrative title.
Opening Brief
This is the first brief filed in the Appeal, and it is where the Appellant makes their case of how the trial court erred in handling their case.
This is a ruling by the Court of Appeals that resolves the case and creates case law that other courts must follow in similar circumstances.
An instruction made by the Court to the parties that the parties must follow. If a party does not follow it, they can face legal penalties.
Order of Protection
A court order directing a party to stay away from and not contact another individual for a year or more. The standard for getting a court order is that the court must believe an act of domestic violence has or will occur.
Order to Appear
This is a Court order directing a party to appear at a Court hearing or other court-ordered event or to face the penalties listed within the order.
Parent Information Program (PIP)
This is a mandatory class that anyone going through a newly started custody case must complete before final trial or before the Court issues a Parenting Plan. Under state law, the Court is not supposed to award parenting time to anyone who has not completed the course. The course is available online and takes generally four hours to complete. Make sure you are using a Court-approved provider.
Parenting Conference
This is a mediation between the parents only (no attorneys) in which a member of the court staff works with the parties to reach agreements regarding the issues of legal decision-making and parenting time.
Parenting Coordinator
This is a third party, usually an attorney or psychologist, who works with parents to help them reach decisions regarding the child. If the parents cannot work through an impasse, the Parenting Coordinator can serve as the tiebreaker and make the decision for them. Both parties must agree to a parenting coordinator.
Parenting Plan
This is the Court order that contains the legal decision-making and parenting time orders. It sets forth the parenting time schedule and includes the other custody orders.
Parenting Time
This is what it sounds like—this is when it’s the parent’s time with the child(ren). See A.R.S § 25-401(5). Prior to 2012, it was known as physical custody.
Parenting Time Schedule
This is an agreed upon schedule of the dates and times that each parent will spend with the children. Holidays, weekends, when and where exchanges will happen.
Parol Evidence
Evidence of what the parties intended in an Agreement. Generally, parol evidence is disallowed.
Parol Evidence Rule
When a contrast has a term that is ambiguous or susceptible to two or more meanings, parol evidence may be evidenced used to determine what the parties’ intent was. Parol evidence is never permissible to determine the meaning of a judgment; it may be permissible for a Property Settlement that is incorporated but not merged because such agreements are reviewed under contract rules.
An individual, entity, or the state that either brings the lawsuit or is required to respond to the lawsuit. See ARFLP Rule 3(f).
Personal Care Decisions
A category of legal decision-making that has not yet been defined in the law. Generally, though, it is thought to include bigger decisions that impact a child’s life, such as whether they get an ear pierced or get a tattoo.  It may include whether a child gets a smartphone or a car. It does not include smaller, everyday decisions like what clothes they wear, what they eat, what TV shows they watch, or what friends they play with.
Personal Knowledge Rule
A requirement that a witness must have person (first-hand) knowledge of the subject matter of their testimony. See Arizona Rule of Evidence Rule 602. This rule generally does not apply in family court proceedings unless a party invokes strict compliance with the Rules of Evidence under ARFLP Rule 2. See Invoking the Rule and ARFLP Rule 2.
Personal Property
Any type of property that is moveable, or, in other words, any property that is not real property. Personal property also comes in two classifications: tangible property or intangible property. See Real Property, Intangible Property, and Tangible Property. 
This is a court document that someone files to start a case.
Petition for Conciliation Services
For people who do not want to get divorced but who have a divorce case pending, legally, they have an option to try and save the marriage by filing a Petition for Conciliation Services. This puts a 60-day pause on the divorce proceedings. During this 60-day period the parties will have one meeting with a counselor at the court to see what, if anything, can be done about repairing the marital relationship.
Petition for Contempt
A document that starts a case in which the person filing is asking the court to punish the other party for violating a court order.
Petition for Dissolution
A document that starts a case to end a marriage, i.e., the paperwork that starts the divorce.
Petition for Relocation
A document that asks the court to permit a party move the child away from the other parent. Under A.R.S. § 25-408, moves that are either out of state or more than 100 miles within the state need either the other parent’s approval or a Court order permitting them to go.
Petition for Third-Party Rights
A document that asks the Court to award legal decision-making or parenting time to a non-parent. It requires a showing that the parents are not married, the person requesting placement or legal decision-making stands in loc parentis to the child, and it would be a significant detriment for the child to remain in either parent’s care.
Petition for Visitation
A document that asks the Court to award time with the child to a nonparent.
Petition to Enforce
A document that starts a case where the person filing is asking the court to make additional orders to force compliance with an already existing order.
Petition to Establish
A document that starts a case involving unmarried parents where the Court will be making a decision for the first time. This typically includes first-time orders for paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support.
Petition to Modify
A document that starts a case to change a current court order. This can include legal decision-making, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance.
Petition to Prevent Relocation
A document that starts a case where one parent is trying to prevent the other parent from moving away with the child.
Petition to Terminate
A document that asks the court to stop an order requiring a party to pay child support or spousal maintenance.
This term refers to the person or party who filed the original lawsuit. Defined in the rules as, The person or entity [who] files the first petition.” ARFLP Rule 3(f)(1).   In family law matters, some people develop an emotional attachment to being the Petitioner vs the Respondent (see term Respondent for related information). This usually dictates the order in which you present your story at trial. See also Respondent.
Physical Custody
This is an outdated term in Arizona family law. It has been replaced with the term “parenting time,” which generally describes the schedule of which parent has the child. See Parenting Time. See Parenting Time.
Pinpoint Citation
This is a citation that cites to the page, paragraph, and/or line number of a document. You want to “pinpoint” the exact place you got your information so that Court of Appeals can find it more easily.
This is when a child is placed with a nonparent under a third-party rights petition. The third party essentially becomes the physical custodian of the child.
A document drafted to file with the Court following specific outlines and procedures. Motions, Notices, Stipulations, etc. all fall under the pleading category.
Postnuptial Agreement
Very much like a prenuptial agreement except it occurs during the marriage. It must follow all the requirements of a prenuptial agreement to be valid. One key difference between a postnuptial agreement and a prenuptial agreement is the burden of proof. If challenged at the time of the divorce, the person challenging the prenuptial agreement has the burden to prove it is invalid; the person trying to uphold a postnuptial agreement has the burden of proof to prove it is valid.
Preliminary Injunction
This is a court order that goes into effect, by law, whenever a Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) is filed or for certain custody matters. See A.R.S. § 25-315 and A.R.S. § 25-808. It prevents the parties from doing certain things, including removing children out of state. The preliminary injunction is binding on the petitioner at the time of filing, and the Respondent at the time of service. See A.R.S. § 25-315(A)(3) and A.R.S. § 25-808(D)
Premium of Control
A business valuation method that recognizes the shares that permit one to control the business are more valuable than shares that do not. See also Minority Share Discount. 
Prenuptial Agreement
An agreement made between two people prior to the marriage that can determine how they will hold property during the marriage and determine how property will be divided and how spousal maintenance will be ordered in the event of a divorce. In other words, it allows spouses to opt out of Arizona’s community property laws, including the joint liability laws. If challenged at the time of the divorce, the burden is on the person challenging the prenuptial agreement. See A.R.S. § 25-202.
Preponderance of the Evidence
This is an evidentiary standard, and it used in family court for almost all issues that do not involve children. Under a preponderance of the evidence standard, the person with the burden of proof must show that what they are alleging is “more likely than not” what happened.
Present-Cash-Value Method
The court determines the community interest in the pension, figures the present cash value of that interest, and awards half of that amount to the non-employee spouse in a lump sum. This method is preferred over the Reserved-Jurisdiction Method.
Presiding Judge
Each county’s superior court has a judge who is in charge of the court.
Presumption of Paternity
There are four presumption of paternity: Married to the mother within 10 months of birth (under case law, a woman married to the mother may claim this presumption), genetic testing confirms he is the father, a birth certificate signed by both parents, or a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity signed by both parents (and the mother’s spouse if she is married and another person is acknowledge as the father). A presumption alone does not establish paternity. A person is not a legal parent until the Court rules that they are a parent or when the Acknowledgment of Paternity is filed with the state of Arizona. When two or more presumptions apply, the Court must decide which person will be the parent. See A.R.S. § 25-814.
Prevailing Party Standard
This refers to a standard for award attorney's fees to the successful party in a case. Generally, this standard only comes into play in breach of contract cases where a prevailing party provision is written into the Agreement. Family courts, though, employ a different standard for awarding attorney's fees. The most common approach is from A.R.S. 25-324, which allows a Court to award fees based either on disparity of income or because one party took unreasonable positions.
Pro per (Pro se)
This is a party who is representing themselves in court (i.e., they don’t have a lawyer).
Probative Value
The value a fact or evidence has to proving one’s case. Black’s Law Dictionary defines probative value as, “The degree to which one fact tends to make probable another posited fact.” See Material, Relevance, and Relevant Evidence. See Arizona Rule of Evidence Rule 403.
Proceeds for Bodily Injury
Proceeds in a lawsuit for bodily injury are considered to be the sole and separate property of the spouse who suffered the injury. The body is considered to be a sole and separate asset, and any compensation for damage to the body is thus belongs to the injured spouse.
Proceeds for Lost Wages
Proceeds for lost wages in a lawsuit will be considered to be community property if the wages would have been earned during the marriage.
Proceeds for Pain and Suffering
Proceeds in a lawsuit for pain and suffering are considered to be the sole and separate property of the injured spouse.
Process Server
This is someone certified by the superior court to provide paperwork of a court proceeding to a person who is entitled to receive such notice. When a process server completes service, they will file an Affidavit of Service with the courts.
Proof of Service
The evidence filed with the Court to show that service was completed. Common examples include a process server’s Affidavit of Service, an Acceptance of Service, or the returned receipt from a certified mailing.
Property Settlement Agreement
This is a document that is part of the Divorce Decree. It divides up all the property. It gives substantially more protection and convey stronger title than do similar provisions made in a Consent Decree alone.
Used, most commonly in Arizona family as part of the phrase, "propound discovery." This means that you have formally sent a discovery request to the opposing party. The basic verb means to "put forward" or "offer for consideration." In that sense, the discovery requests that are sent are putting forward questions or requests to the opposing party.
Protected Address
A party can request to have their address protected from the other party. If granted by the Court, the Clerk must disclose the party’s address, and the party need not include their address on court filings. The opposing party delivers documents to the protected party by providing them to the Clerk to provide to the protected party. See ARFLP Rule 7.
Psychiatric Evaluation
This is a physical examination to determine if there are any physical problems that might present a mental health diagnosis. The psychiatric evaluation should not be
Psychological Evaluation
This is an evaluation, usually Court-ordered, where a psychologists runs through a series of tests with a parent to determine if the parent has any mental health diagnoses that may make it problematic for the parent to have a child in their care.
QDRO attorney
An attorney who specializes in preparing QDRO’s. Because QDRO’s are highly technical, the parties are encouraged to retain their own QDRO attorney, separate from the attorneys who represented them in the divorce.
Quadrennial Review
As required by state and federal law, the state conducts a review every four years of the Child Support Guidelines and updates them accordingly.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
This is an order that divides community retirement or pension accounts. It is prepared after the Divorce Decree is entered by the judge. It prevents the parties from being hit with tax and early withdrawal penalties they would otherwise face in dividing up the accounts.
Quit Claim Deed
A document signed by someone that gives up their interest in real property. It is a common way to take a divorced spouse’s name off the deed. It is distinguished from a disclaimer deed because it is not signed at the time of purchase/refinance. If someone “quit claims” the property, during the marriage, that person may still have a right to a community lien.
Real Property
Ownership of any land and anything affixed to the land, including the marital residence, other homes, and any land owned by a community business. Compare to Personal Property. 
A neutral party appointed to manage a party’s legal interests. For example, a receiver could be appointed to run a community business and/or distribute the community funds during the pendency of the divorce.
Redirect Examination
After a witness of theirs has been cross-examined, a party or counsel may ask their witness questions in response to issues raised during cross-examination.
Relevancy Objection
If evidence is not relevant, the opponent of the person offering the evidence can object to its admissibility on the grounds that it is not relevant.
As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, “Logically connected and tending to prove or disprove a matter in issue; having appreciable probative value — that is, rationally tending to persuade people of the probability or possibility of some alleged fact.” (Black’s 11th ed., 2019). See Material, Material Evidence, Consequential Fact, Relevant Evidence, and Relevancy Objection
Relevant Evidence
Rule 401 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence reads: “Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action..” Relevant evidence, nonetheless, may be inadmissible, under Rule 403 of Arizona Rules of Evidence, if its “probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.” See Material, Material Evidence, Consequential Fact, Probative Value, and Relevancy Objection. 
A term to describe when an employee is given a bonus by their employer as a form of compensation for services performed. A remuneratory bonus is considered community property. See also Gift Bonus.
Request for Admission
This is a discovery tool where a party asks the other party to admit to certain facts under oath.
Request for Production
This is a discovery tool where a party asks the other party to produce certain documents. ARFLP Rule 64 governs Requests for Admission.
Reserved-Jurisdiction Method
The Court determines the community share of the pension, but it retains jurisdiction to award the appropriate of each pension payment, I, as, and when, it is paid out.
Resolution Management Conference (RMC)
This is usually one of the first hearings set in a family law case for the judge to meet with both parties and counsel, if any, to determine if there are any standing agreements and how to determine a timeline forward. Judges usually request each party produce a Resolution Management Conference statement and file it prior to the hearing to gather important facts and agreements in the case.
This term refers to the person or party on the receiving side of the original lawsuit. Defined in the rule as “any opposing party other than the petitioner. ARFLP Rule 3(f)(2).   See also Petitioner .
Response to Petition
This is also known as the Answer; this is the filing made in response to a petition.  It addresses the issues raised in the Petition and may raise new issues as well.
Restricted Stock
Unregistered shares of a company, generally used as a form of executive compensation. These are shares that are not publicly traded. The shares may only be traded within special regulations created by the SEC.
Revocation-upon-Dissolution Statute
Found in A.R.S. § 14-2804, it rescinds, upon divorce, beneficiary designations naming one’s spouse as beneficiary. This statute applies to things such as wills, trusts, and individually purchased life insurance policies. To keep their former spouse as a beneficiary, a person must re-execute the documents post divorce.
Rule 2
Rule 2This rule excludes certain parts of the Arizona Rules of Evidence from applying to a family court matter, including the rules regarding hearsay, foundation, and best evidence. This is intended to make it easier for people to represent themselves in family court. A party may opt to bring the rules back into their hearing by filing a Rule 2 Notice.
Rule 29(b) Motion
Rule 29(b) MotionThese are bases to dismiss a Petition for failing to meet the legal standard. Must be the first thing filed in response to a Petition (even before the Answer) or it is waived.
Rule 49
The family law rule for disclosure of documents and witnesses. This rule must be followed; otherwise, the opposing party may object to evidence presented at trial on the basis on non-disclosure. See ARFLP Rule 49.
Rule 49 Letter
A letter an attorney sends out to clients detailing all the documents that they need to gather and provide to the attorney so that they may be disclosed.
Rule 69 Agreement
Rule 69 AgreementUnder Rule 69 of the Arizona Rules of Family Procedure, an agreement is binding on the parties if it is in writing and signed by both parties. An email signature counts as a signature for purposes of this rule. An agreement becomes binding on the Court as well if the parties submit the agreement to the Court and the Court adopts the agreement as an order of the Court.
Rule 78
The family rule regarding when a judgment becomes final. This is important because Rule 78 essentially tells litigants when the clock begins to run on filing a Notice of Appeal and the deadline to file a Rule 83 Motion. See Rule 78 Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
Rule 78 Language
Language that makes a family court order appealable. "Rule 78 Language" is used collectively to describe both Rule 78(b) language and Rule 78(c) language. Rule 78(b) Language: In a case involving more than one claim or more than two parties, if a Court issues an order that does not resolve the case with respect to all claims and all parties, the Court nonetheless declare that the part of the case on which it has ruled is a final. Appealable order. Rule 78(c) Language: When all issues in a case are decided, the Court certifies the decision as final and appealable by using Rule 78(c) language. See Rule 78 Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
Rule of 65
The Rule of 65 from the Arizona Spousal Maintenance Guidelines, that, when the criteria is met, the Court may order a duration different than the one suggested by the Guidelines—the only duration affected is the one for marriage of 16 years or more, and the range for those marriages is 12 to 96 months of spousal maintenance. For the Rule of 65 to apply, all three of the following requirements need to be met: (1) The party seeking maintenance is at least 42 years old. (2) The marriage lasted at least 16 years. (3) The age of the spouse seeking maintenance + length of marriage is equal to or greater than 65. ASMG § V(B)(1)(b). The length of the marriage is judged from the date of the wedding ceremony to the date of service.
Satisfaction of Judgment
This is a Court document that says the party who was ordered to pay money or deliver property to the other party has done so and has completed their obligation. The Satisfaction on Judgment is usually signed by the person who was owed money in front of a notary—and it serves an important purpose: It prevents future disputes over whether the amounts owed were actually paid.
Sealed Record
Family court proceedings are public record; however, the Court can order the record to be sealed. Because of the public interest in open Courts, the ability to seal records is difficult. But the Court may do so if it considers the factors listed in ARFLP Rule 17(c) and enters findings in support of its ruling.
Seals and Signatures
This phrase refers to a requirement to certify documents between different jurisdictions. Generally, certification requires signature(s) from certain public officials (such as a judge, the clerk of Court, and, in some instances, the Secretary of State) and the official seal of the court (which is usually imprinted as a raised seal on certified court documents). The seals and signatures is a way to ensure the documents are authentic.
The process in which you notify the other party that you have filed something. Certain documents, such as Petition and the summons, must be served directly on the other party, by process server, certified mail with restricted delivery, or by having the respondent accept services. Most other documents can be mailed or emailed.
Service by Publication
An alternative form of service where a party is notified by a notice published in a daily newspaper for at least once a week for four consecutive weeks. This method is both expensive and strongly disfavored, and a Decree or order issued under this method is more easily set aside than any other form of service. See ARFLP Rule 41(m).
Settlement Letter
Formal written correspondence from one party to another outlining positions to resolve outstanding issues of a matter. Typically protected under rule 408, settlement letters can be an effective way to come closer to resolution before litigation becomes necessary.
Sharp Hearing
A hearing to determine if a Separation Agreement is fair. A person may challenge a Separation Agreement on the basis that it is unfair under A.R.S. § 25-317(B). The Court of Appeals recognized in Sharp v. Sharp, 179 Ariz. 205 (App. 1994)  that a hearing could be held that a party challenges the fairness of a Separation Agreement, the Court must independently determine the issue of fairness.
Sole and Separate Property
Property that belongs 100% to one spouse and is not part of the community property. Most commonly, this is property the spouse brought into the marriage.
Sole Legal Decision-Making
If the court orders sole legal decision-making, the parent with the sole legal decision-making authority makes all decisions related to the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, or personal care.
Solemn Affirmation
An alternative to an oath available for those who conscientiously object to taking oaths. Those individuals instead can make a solemn and formal decorations that the statements they make are true. Wherever an oath is required, a solemn affirmation will meet the requirement under ARFLP Rule 15.
Special Action
This is an option for a party to challenge a ruling made in their case before final trial has been held. Prior to the final ruling coming out, the parties cannot appeal. This is commonly used as a means to challenge a ruling made at temporary orders. It is also the only way you can appeal a ruling on contempt.
Special Order after Judgment
This is an order ruling on a post-decree motion, such as Motion to Reconsider, a Motion to Alter or Amend, or a Motion for Relief. These orders are appealable without the Court entering Rule 78 language.
Special Real Estate Master
A person, usually a realtor, who is appointed by the Court to sell the parties’ real party.
Spousal Maintenance
These are payments made from one spouse to another when one spouse cannot financially meet their reasonable needs on their own. The law permits spousal maintenance (or alimony as it’s called in other states) for several reasons—to help maintain the lifestyle the parties enjoyed during the marriage, or to account for the role a spouse played in the other spouse fulfilling career ambitions, but the reason that is most likely to be reflected in a spousal maintenance order is to transition the receiving spouse to becoming self-sufficient. A.R.S. § 25-319 are the spousal maintenance laws acting in conjunction with the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines to provide guidance for how to aware spousal maintenance.
Spousal Maintenance Calculator
This is a tool the Court uses to determine how much spousal maintenance should be ordered and for how long. It considers a variety of factors, including the parties’ incomes and mortgage payment, to determine spousal maintenance.
Spousal Maintenance Guidelines
First adopted in 2023, these are a set of rules and principles that a Court must follow in determining whether to award spousal maintenance and for how long and for how much. They contain rules regarding eligibility, the seven-step process of determining an amount and duration, and standards for deviation, temporary orders, and modification.
Spousal Maintenance Income
The income the Court determines should be used for a party when the Court calculates spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance income is Actual Income + any attributed income. Arizona Spousal Maintenance Guidelines ASMG § I(D).
Refers to one’s ability to bring a case on a certain subject. Generally, you have to be one of the parties directly impacted by a case to bring suit. For example, let’s say Brad and Paula are married to each other. Paula’s father, Ed, does not like Brad and wants Paula to divorce him. Ed, though, cannot file for divorce. He lacks standing to file a divorce, as he would only be indirectly impacted by it. Only Brad and Paula, the ones who would be directly impacted by divorce, have “standing.”
Statement of the Case
This is the part of the appellate brief where you explain to the Court of Appeals the history of the case and what it is that you are appealing.
Status Conference
Typically held telephonically, this is a brief conference held for the Court to aid and understand where a case is at in the resolution process or to provide guidance for the matter; a meeting to discuss the status. Either party can ask for a status conference or the Judge will set them as needed.
Statute of Limitation
A deadline that begins to run after injury occurs and is discovered. The purpose of a statute of limitation is to require the injured party to act after they are injured.
Statutory Agent
A person or business designated to receive service on behalf of a business.
An order pausing either a legal proceeding or ordering that a person refrain from taking certain actions. Stays are generally only in place temporarily.
This is a discovery tool where a party can demand a person to appear as a witness or hand over documents. A subpoena is a form that party fills out and takes to the Court where it will be stamped as a court order through the recipient of the subpoena or the other party may contest the subpoena by asking that it be “quashed.”
Subpoena Duces Tecum
This is a subpoena where the recipient is instructed to hand over certain documents.
Substitution of Counsel
A notice filed to the Court that the client is switching attorneys. Both the departing attorney and the newly hired attorney sign the document.
A Court document notifying someone that a case has been filed against them and directing them to respond.
Supervised Visitation
This is where someone else must be present whenever a parent has parenting time. The supervisor is usually someone appointed by the Court or agreed upon by the parties.
Table of Authorities
This is a list of every rule, statute, Constitutional provision, law review article, etc. that you cite in your Brief. You must indicate a page number for every time the item is listed. The Table of Authorities goes after the Table of Contents in the Brief.
Tangible property
Property that is physical or touchable in nature, such as clothes, furniture, cash, stocks, a TV, a washer and dryer, etc., as opposed to Intangible Property, which is property that lacks physical form, such as a copyright or cryptocurrency. See Intangible Property. 
Tax Year
The tax year refers to the year in which the wages were earned on which a party paid income tax. If you are assigned odd years to claim the child for tax purposes, then you will claim your child when you file the tax returns for that odd year. For example, for Tax Year 2021 taxes, you would claim your child, even though you will be filing your tax return sometime in 2022, when the tax returns for 2021 are due.
Temporary Orders
Orders the court puts in place while the parties go through discovery and disclosure on the case. The orders are in place until further order of the Court. Common temporary orders are orders for legal decision-making, parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, exclusive use of the marital residence, and an interim award of attorney’s fees.
Temporary Orders Hearing
A trial held to determine what orders will be in place while the case is pending.
The sworn statements of a witness made at a trial or deposition.
The Hague Convention
This refers to a series of international treaties on a variety of issues. Most relevant to family are the treaties on child custody jurisdiction and service. When jurisdiction between two countries is in dispute, courts are to consider in which country the child has habitually resided. For acceptable service in a foreign country, the serving party must follow the applicable standards set forth by that country.
Therapeutic Interventionist (TI)
A psychologist who is appointed by the court to help children reunite with a parent.
Third Party
A non-parent who requests to have legal decision-making, placement, or visitation with a child.
Third-Party Rights
This is the ability of a non-parent to request legal decision-making, placement, or visitation of/with a child. Despite the term including the word “rights,” third parties actually have no legal rights to a child. Because parents have a Constitutional right to the care, custody, and control of their children, they have a big advantage in most of these proceedings.
Title IV-D
A reference to Title IV-D of Social Security Act, which triggers specialized child support proceedings when the child is on government benefits. See Title IV-D
A process by which a party shows the judge exactly what transactions in a commingled fund were made by community property. The purpose is to allow the judge to remove all those assets and award property equitably.
This is when a person’s sole and separate property becomes community property either by agreement of the spouses or by the owner spouse gifting it to the community. In essence, it is a change of the characterization of the property. As one commentator explained, it “is called ‘transmutation’ by lawyers because the synonym ‘change’ is not sophisticated enough.” Robert L. Mennell & Thomas K. Boykoff, Community Property, West Publishing Co.: St. Paul, Minn., 1982. See Bilateral Transmutation and Unilateral Transmutation; compare with Commingled
A court hearing in which evidence and testimony are taken, and the Court makes a ruling on the issues presented at trial.
Trial by Jury
This is where the case is decided by a jury of one’s peers. Juries are generally seated for criminal and civil court proceedings. In the family court, there is no right to trial by jury.
Two-Dollar Bankruptcy
Prior to 1973, by getting married, a person contracting a debt while single could effectively protect his or her property from a judgment creditor. See former A.R.S. § 25–216. The creditor had no claim to the property of the debtor's marital community. This was known as the ‘two dollar bankruptcy’ because a marriage license cost two dollars.” Flexmaster Aluminum Awning Co., Inc. v. Hirschberg, 173 Ariz. 83, 87–88, (App. 1992). This option was effectively eliminated by the passage of A.R.S. § 25-215. Today, the term is relevant only because judgment creditors continue to accuse married judgment debtors of trying to obtain a “two-dollar bankruptcy.”
A standard by which a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be invalidated. An agreement is unconscionable if it is so unfair that it “shocks the conscience.” In other words, if the prenup is grossly unfair, a court may invalidate it. See A.R.S. § 25-202(B)(2).
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
A series of laws that determines which state has jurisdiction over a child custody proceeding. Every state but Massachusetts has adopted the UCCJEA.
Uniform Interrogatories
This is a set of pre-written questions that one party can send the other party to answer under oath. The uniform interrogatories get their name because the questions do not vary from case to case.
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
A series of laws that determine which state has jurisdiction over child or spousal support proceedings.
In a joint legal decision-making or coequal custody situation, one parent acts unilaterally when they make decisions without an agreement from the other parent.
Unilateral Transmutation
When one spouse gifts their sole and separate property to the marital community. See also Transmutation and Bilateral Transmutation.
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses
Medical expenses incurred for the child that are not covered by insurance. Whenever the Court issues a child support order, the Court generally also includes a separate order for how unreimbursed medical expenses are to be divided.
Unsworn Declarations under Penalty of Perjury
Where rules require a verification, a party may instead sign a document that the information in the document is true and correct and that the signature is made under the penalty of perjury. This exception to a notarized verification does not apply to an Acceptance of Service, an Affidavit submitted in support of an Application for Default, a Consent Decree, or a post-decree Rule 69 Agreement that changed legal decision-making or parenting time. See ARFLP Rule 14. 
Unvested Stock Options
Stocks that one spouse has been promised but does not yet have full ownership over, according to the vesting schedule set by the spouse’s employer. These will be partially community property, partially sole and separate property.
Vacation Schedule
An order within the Parenting Plan that assigns a certain amount of vacation time to each parent. The vacation schedule supersedes the regular schedule.
The location of the Court in which a case is heard. For example, all the superior courts in the state of Arizona are considered to be a single court, but the venues are different. For example, a person whose case is in Gila County Superior Court may wish to move their case to Maricopa County Superior Court. To do so, they would file a Motion to Change Venue because their case would still be in the same superior court system, but at a different location.
This is a document signed by a person to say that the information in their Petition or Response is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.
Vested Stock Option
Stocks over which at least one of the spouses has full ownership and control. If acquired during the marriage, these are 100% community property (with some exceptions).
This is Court-ordered time the child is to spend with a third-party.
Waiting Period
Under Arizona law, you must wait sixty (60) days from the date of service before the divorce can be completed.
Week-On/Week-Off Parenting Plan
As the name suggests, one parent has the child one week; the other parent has the child the next week.

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