You have just come from your lawyer’s office and now wonder whether you really understood everything that was being said. There are special terms used throughout a divorce proceeding that you will hear, and often times as practitioners we forget that the terms, while familiar to us, are not familiar to you. The following is a list of frequently used terms. The definitions are not meant to be a substitute for a more thorough explanation of the processes involved in your proceeding. However, this will give you an overview of some of the terms you might hear during the divorce process.
Affidavit of Financial Information (“AFI”). The form that you will fill out that advises the judge of your income and expense. The AFI is used to help determine the need for support or your ability to pay support.
Dissolution of Marriage. The divorce.
Community Property. Property acquired during the marriage except property acquired by (1) gift, devise or descent; or (2) acquired after service of a petition for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment.
Decree. This is the final order from the court granting the divorce.
Petitioner and Respondent. In Arizona and many other states dissolution of marriage actions are not between plaintiffs and defendants. Rather the first person filing the papers is called the “Petitioner” and the person responding is called the “Respondent.” It does not matter in a dissolution of marriage action if you are the Petitioner or the Respondent. The end result will be the same.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”). This is an order that is entered in cases where retirement plans must be divided.
Resolution Management Conference. A resolution management conference is a court proceeding set by the court that you, your spouse and your respective attorneys, if represented, will attend before the court. This is the court’s first opportunity to meet the parties and see if there is any agreement between the parties. The court will set a trial date for all issues not resolved at the resolution management conference.
Temporary Orders. Temporary orders are orders that a judge may make in your case prior to the time your divorce is finalized.
Understanding the terms used in the divorce is the first step to understanding the divorce process.