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.

About the Authors:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.

Bob Schwartz is a Member in our Phoenix office. Bob has been practicing law for over 40 years, specializing in family law. He is a member of the American, Arizona and Maricopa County Bar Associations. He is admitted to practice in the federal courts of New York, Arizona, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Schwartz is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and past president of the Arizona chapter. He serves as a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family court matters. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona; is a frequent lecturer on family law and related matters; and, former member of the State Bar Family Law Advisory Commission. Mr. Schwartz has tried numerous complex business valuation cases as well as complex custody cases. He has testified as an expert in family law matters. Bob co-authored the Divorce in Arizona book. He may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5020.