A lawsuit or proceeding in a court of law.



A written statement under oath.



Payments made to a separated or divorced souse as requited by a divorce decree or separation agreement, now called Spousal Support or maintenance.


Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Ways of making decisions and resolving disputes other than litigation (contested hearings); this includes Collaborative Practice, mediation, arbitration and cooperative divorce.



Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage. Unlike a divorce, annulment treats the marriage as through it never happened. For some people, divorce carries a stigma. They would prefer to have their marriage annulled. Others prefer an annulment because it may be easier to remarry in their church if they go through an annulment rather than a divorce.

There are two types of annulment, civil annulment (by the state government) and religious annulment (by a church). Most annulments take place after marriages of a very short duration — a few weeks or months – so there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation, and child support are a concern. When a long-term marriage is annulled, however, most states have provisions for dividing property and debts, as well as determining child custody, child visitation and child support. Children of an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.



The written response to a complaint, petition, or motion.



A legal action where the losing party requests that a higher court review the decision.



This term refers to the party or the person representing the party. The Appearance form advises the court who will be representing the party, or the acknowledgment in open court by an attorney that they will be representing the party, so that the court can communicate with the individual or their representative.


Case Management Conference

An opportunity to discuss issues and problems of a legal case. Usually the first appearance in court by the parties and their attorneys after a complaint and answer are filed. In the State of California there are only two legal grounds for divorce or legal separation of a marriage or domestic partnership: irreconcilable difference, or permanent legal incapacitation to make decisions.


Child Custody

This refers to rights regarding a child. There are two different types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. For legal custody, there are different variations of custody, sole custody and joint custody. The most common form of custody is Joint Legal Custody. With Joint Legal Custody, both parents make the decisions on behalf of the children concerning health, education, religion, and general welfare.

Physical custody is often pursuant to a co-parenting plan, and can take a variety of forms or schedule, depending on the needs of each family. Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a regular basis. Generally, the parent the child does not live with will be allowed to have regular time with the child. The standard for deciding physical custody is “best interest of the child.” Parents can make any custodial arrangement in the best interest of their children.

California will usually award joint physical custody to both parents when the child spends significant amounts of time with both parents. Joint physical custody works best if parents live relatively near to each other, as it lessens the stress of children and allows them to maintain a somewhat normal routine. Where the child lives primarily … Read More “Child Custody”