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GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS FOR BANKRUPTCY AND FAMILY LAW

Family Law

Acceptance of Service - A form signed by a non-filing spouse indicating that the spouse agrees to receive the initial papers in the case without the papers being formally delivered by a Sheriff or process server.

Affidavit - A written statement made under oath to show that certain facts are true or that certain events have happened.

Affidavit of Service - A paper filed with the court to show that legal papers in a court case have been delivered to one of the persons involved in the case.

Application for Default - A form filed with the Clerk of Superior Court indicating that the Respondent has been served with the initial court papers and has not replied in the time allowed by law.

Conciliation Court - A branch of the Superior Court to which a spouse may apply in an effort to preserve a marriage or to receive other services such as mediation.

Conciliation Services - Services of trained professionals offered by the court to persons in divorce or custody cases that help resolve disputes or reconcile marital difficulties.

Community Property - A term generally meaning that a wife and husband share equally anything acquired, purchased or paid for during the marriage, no matter who uses the property or who paid the money or in whose name title is taken.

Commissioner - A person authorized to hear and determine some kinds of court cases. A judge is elected or appointed by the Governor. A Commissioner is appointed by the Presiding Superior Court Judge in a particular county to perform some of the tasks that a judge otherwise would do.

Consent Decree - An order of the court legally ending a marriage that is based on an agreement of the spouses regarding any issues that originally were disputed. Covenant Marriage - An optional type of marriage created by the state legislature that requires partners to complete marital counseling prior to marrying and to sign a special declaration to obtain a marriage license. In a covenant marriage, a legal separation or divorce may be granted only for certain reasons listed in state law.

Decree - The court order legally ending a marriage, often containing other orders regarding division of property, debts, spousal support and, when children are involved, custody, parenting time and child support.

Default - When a person named in a lawsuit chooses not to or neglects to participate by filing necessary court papers or making an appearance in court, the court may enter orders against that person without the person being involved.

Deferral - When speaking of court fees, a term meaning that payment of fees may be postponed.

Dismiss - An action taken by the court that has the effect of ending a case or a request in a case.

Dissolution of Marriage - The terms used in Arizona law for divorce. Enter (also Entry) - A term used to indicate that a document is accepted by the Clerk of Superior Court and made a part of the official court record in a case.

Hearing - The opportunity for persons involved in a legal case to tell the court their side of the dispute to the court. Hearings are scheduled by the court for a particular date and time.

Injunction - An order of the court directing the spouses not to do certain things like sell property or annoy one another.

Irretrievably Broken - The standard used by the court to decide if a dissolution of marriage should be granted. It means that there is no reasonable chance that the spouses will agree to stay married.

Judicial Officer - A term referring to either a judge or commissioner of the court who has the authority to decide legal issues and issue court orders.

Mediation - A process by which persons attempt to reach mutually acceptable agreements, usually with the assistance of a trained professional who guides the discussion process.

Motion - A written request filed with the court asking a judge to issue an order or rule on a particular matter.

Petition - The paper filed with the Clerk of Superior Court to state a case for dissolution of marriage.

Petitioner - The term used to refer to the spouse that files a request (Petition) with the court for a dissolution of marriage. This can be either the husband or wife.

Process Server - A person authorized to deliver or serve court papers on one of the parties to the court case. Proof of Service - A paper filed with the court to show that legal papers in a court case have been delivered by a sheriff or other authorized law enforcement officer to one of the persons involved in the case.

Respondent - The spouse that did not file the request for a dissolution of marriage.

Response - The written legal paper filed in court by the person against whom a case to dissolve a marriage has been brought and by which the person tells the court whether he agrees or disagrees with the claims made by the person who started the case.

Separate Property - A term referring to any property owned by a married person before the marriage date that remains the personal property of that spouse during marriage and does not become community property. In addition, gifts and inheritance received during the marriage are the receiving spouses separate property, as are any increases in those items such as interest, profits of sale or capital gain.

Service - The process by which court papers given to the Clerk of Superior Court by one spouse are made available to the other spouse. Particular rules state how service must be made in different circumstances.

Service of Process - A phrase referring to the procedure by which a Summons and the Petition and other papers originally filed with the Clerk of Superior Court are delivered to the non-filing party to advise that a case has been started and a response must be made to avoid further legal action.

Spousal Maintenane - Also called Spousal Support; formerly known as "Alimony." Money that the court may order either a husband or wife to pay to the other during or after a divorce case. The court must decide whether financial support is necessary; if so, in what amount and for how long the support should be paid.

Summons - A legal paper that is stamped by the Clerk of Superior Court and which must be delivered in the way required by court rules on the party who did not file the request for a dissolution of marriage. The Summons notifies the non-filing spouse that a request for a dissolution of marriage has been filed and advises that spouse what action must be taken.

Waiver - When speaking about court fees, a term meaning that payment of fees is excused. Waiver of Service - A form signed by a non-filing spouse indicating that the spouse does not wish to formally receive the initial papers in the case by delivery from a Sheriff or process server.