Superior Court >Law Library Resource Center > Glossary


Provided is a listing of court related terms, defined to help you with the filing of your forms. To locate your definition, click on the initial letter of the word or phrase your searching for.

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Absent Parent: Any individual that is absent from the home and is legally responsible for providing financial support for a dependent child.

Abuser/Abuse: See "Offender", as well as "Domestic Violence".

Adoption: See "Community Services (For Minors)".

Acquittal: Legal judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the charges against him or her.

Action: Case, cause, suit or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.

Active Calendar: The term used for the calendar on which civil cases are placed after the fling and processing of a motion to set and certificate of readiness, or after the setting of a trial date.

Additur: To add to the amount of verdict when damages are awarded by the jury and appear to be too little.

Adjudication: The determination of issues in a lawsuit; the judgment.

Admissibility: The ability to legally and properly introduce relevant evidence.

AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children): Public assistance paid on behalf of the children.

Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or other officer having authority to administer oaths.

Agent: One who has the authority to act for another.

Alimony: See "Spousal Maintenance".

Annual Report of Guardian: Every year, a Guardian of an adult, and a guardian who is not related to his or her minor ward, must file an Annual Report stating the condition of the ward, whether the Guardianship should continue, how he or she cared for the ward during the last year, and what the plans are to care for the ward for the next year. A Guardian is obligated to provide the most reasonable care that is possible under the circumstances.

No court form is sent to you in advance. You must remember to do this yourself. The form you write must be called "Annual Report of Guardian."

The Guardian must file the Annual Report with the Probate Registrar and send copies to Probate Court Administration, to the ward, and to all other interested persons. Forms are available at the Law Library Resource Center.

Annulment: A court process to declare that the parties were never legally married to begin with, because at the time of the marriage something was so wrong that no legal relationship could be established by marriage. The annulment decree will specify the legal reason why the marriage was void from the beginning, and will also specify everything else like Legal Decision Making (Custody), parent-child access (parenting time), child support, division of property and debt, Spousal maintenance (alimony) and name change of either party if requested. If you are interested in an or annulment, you can get help from an attorney who can get you on the right track to help yourself.

Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a complaint setting forth the grounds for his defense.

Appeal: To ask a higher court to reverse a lower court's decision.

Appellant: A party who appeals a suit to a higher court.

Appellee: The party against whom an appeal is taken to a higher court, usually the winning party in the lower court.

Arizona Tax Court: See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Arbitration: A mini-trial, which may be for a lawsuit ready to go to trial, held in an attempt to avoid a court trial and conducted by a person (usually an attorney) who is not a judge. The arbitration may be agreed to by the parties, may be required by a provision in a contract for settling disputes, or may be provided for under statute.
  • Binding: The hearing and settlement of a dispute by a third party (arbitrator) whose decision will be binding upon the parties.
  • Non-Binding: The hearing and entry of an "award" which may be appealed.
  • Compulsory: Mandated by statute when no party seeks affirmative relief other than a money judgment; and no party seeks an award in excess of the jurisdictional limit of arbitration ($50,000.00).

Arrearages (Arrears): Unpaid child support/spousal maintenance payments owed by a person who is obligated to pay support.

Arrest: Taking physical Legal Decision Making (Custody) of a person by lawful authority, for the purpose of holding him to answer a criminal charge.

A.R.S.: Arizona Revised Statutes.

Assessor: The county officer charged with determining the market value and classification of property for tax purposes. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Award: The written decision or judgment of an arbitrator.


Bail: To obtain the release of a person from legal Legal Decision Making (Custody) by giving surety for his appearance on the day and time appointed.

Bankruptcy: See United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona.

Batterer/Battery: See "Offender", as well as "Domestic Violence".

Bench Trial: A trial without a jury at which the judge decides the facts.

Bench Warrant: A written request from the court to a law enforcement agency to arrest and detain a person who has failed to appear for a court date or abide by a court order.

Bifurcated Trial: To divide in tow; for instance, a trial on liability may be separate from the trial on damages.

Bond: A written instrument guaranteeing the performance of acts.

Bond Exoneration: A court order requiring the entity holding the bond in trust to deliver it (cash or another form of security) to a specific party, most often the party.

Burden of Proof (Small Claims Tax Appeal): You, the plaintiff, have the burden of proof to persuade the judge by a greater weight of the evidence that the assessor's valuation is too high or that the classification is wrong. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

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Caretaker: See "Community Services (For Minors)".

Certified Copy: A copy of a document or record that is signed and certified as a true copy by an employee of the Clerk of the Court.

Certiorari: Appellate proceedings for reexamination of actions of a trial court, or inferior appeals court.

Change of Venue: The moving of a case begun in one county or state to another county or state.

Legal Decision Making (Custody): The rights and relationships between the parents and the children after the divorce decree. The court can order sole Legal Decision Making (Custody) or shared ( joint) Legal Decision Making (Custody). Child support is a different issue from Legal Decision Making (Custody).

Child Support: Payments made by one parent to the other for the needs of the child. A parent who has physical Legal Decision Making (Custody) of a child more than 50% of the time may receive support from the other parent for the support of the child. Further Information.

Child Support Guidelines: A formula to determine the child support amount based upon gross income of both parents. This formula uses a child support worksheet which must be submitted to the court.

China Doll Affidavit: An affidavit supporting a request for attorney's fees made by the prevailing party in a lawsuit. Refers to a decision in the court case, Schweiger v. China Doll Restaurant, Inc.

Civil Arrest Warrant: (Bench Warrant) - a warrant issued by a judge for failure to appear for a hearing or failure to comply with a court order in a civil matter.

Civil Procedure: The body of law and rules governing the methods and practices of civil litigation.

Claimant: One who claims or asserts a right, demand or claim.

Classification: How a property is actually used determines the rate at which a property is taxed. There are 11 different classifications of property described in Arizona's statute. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Clerk the Court: An elected official who is statutorily responsible for keeping all court records and receiving and disbursing support payments.

Commissioner: A judicial officer appointed by the presiding judge and authorized to perform limited judicial functions.

Community Property: Community Property is the name for property in Arizona that a husband and wife acquire during marriage. Community property is generally owned by both spouses, unless they specifically agree differently. When either spouse dies, the surviving spouse owns the community property of both spouses. See "Pensions and Retirement Funds" and "Title to Property".

Visit our Resources page for information on finding a variety of community services.

Community Services: Many people come to Court for help when they have money troubles, problems with relationships, substance abuse or mental health problems, and so on. There are many agencies that offer services to help with these problems. Many of these services are free, or are available on a sliding scale basis to help people afford them.
Visit our Resources page for information on finding a variety of community services.

Community Services (For an Adult): A legal Guardianship or Conservatorship for an adult who needs some assistance is not always desirable or necessary. Alternatives are sometimes available in the community. Here are some examples:
  • Family or friends can assume some responsibility. The individual who needs some assistance may wish to give a trusted friend or relative a limited power of attorney which the caretaker can show to doctors, banks and so on.
  • Respite care may be another alternative. Many organizations in the community offer services designed to assist an individual in day-to-day care. Just a sample of available services include counseling, medical supplies and equipment, food share and meal delivery programs, home repair, housing, legal services, live-in health services, nursing registries, senior centers, support groups, telephone reassurance, transportation and talking books.
Visit our Resources page for information on finding a variety of community services.

Community Services (For Minors):A legal Guardianship or Conservatorship for a minor child is not always desirable or necessary. Alternatives are sometimes available in the community. Here are some examples:
  • If a child's parents are alive but temporarily unable to care for their child, a friend or relative can take that responsibility. Parents or legal Guardians can sign a power of attorney that the caretaker can show to doctors, school officials and so on. In Arizona this kind of power of attorney is limited to six months at a time.
  • Adoption is another alternative. Adoption changes the relationship between the child and the natural parents, making the adopting adult the legal parent. The natural parent loses all parental rights and responsibilities in an adoption.
  • Foster care may be an alternative. Foster parents are licensed to care for a child who has been removed from the biological or legal parents by a court order. If foster parents wish to become the child's legal Guardians, the local social services agency can consult with them on the Guardianship process.
Visit our Resources page for information on finding a variety of community services.

Complaint: Papers filed with the court by the plaintiff to initiate a lawsuit. In small claims tax appeal this is the document you signed contesting the value or classification of the property you own or in which you have an interest. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Conciliation Services (Mediation): A branch of the court which offers services such as marriage counseling, mediation, Legal Decision Making (Custody) evaluation, etc. to a person in the family court process.

Condemnation Action: A lawsuit brought by a public agency to acquire private property for public purposes (schools, highways, parks, hospitals, redevelopment, civic buildings, for example), and a determination of the value to be paid. While the government has the right to acquire the private property (eminent domain), the owner is entitled under the Constitution to receive just compensation to be determined by a court.

Conference: An alternative dispute resolution proceeding conducted by a conference officer to obtain information or agreements related to support (including spousal maintenance), Legal Decision Making (Custody) and parenting time, property and debt issues and, ultimately, to assist the parties to memorialize any agreements, and make recommendations to the court regarding contested issues.

Conservatorship of a Minor: A person appointed by the judge to manage money and property for someone under the age of 18. The Conservator is usually a parent or sometimes a financial institution. The minor child for whom the Conservator is appointed is referred to by law as a "protected person." Further Information.

Conservatorship of an Adult: A Conservator is a person, or sometimes a financial institution, appointed by the judge to manage money and property for someone else. The person needing the Conservatorship is called a "protected person."

The judge may appoint a Conservator when the judge determines two things: First, that the person to be protected is not capable of managing his or her money and property effectively. Second, that the person to be protected has money or property that may be squandered. A Conservator will not be appointed until after a court hearing.

The judge will order the Conservator to obtain a bond in an amount the judge determines is necessary to protect the person's assets. Bonds insure protection against theft or fraud and are obtained from insurance companies. The Court might order that part of the ward's assets are restricted, which will lower the amount of the bond. Further Information.

Contempt of Court: There are essentially two types of contempt: a) being rude, disrespectful to the judge or other attorneys or causing a disturbance in the courtroom, particularly after being warned by the judge; b) willful failure to obey an order of the court. This latter can include failure to pay child support or alimony. The court's power to punish for contempt (called "citing" one for contempt) includes fines and/or jail time (called "imposing sanctions").

Contested Cases: Cases in which a response to a petition has been filed disputing some or all issues in the petition.

Contract: A binding agreement (may be written or oral) between two or more persons.

Contract Action: A type of lawsuit based on a breach of a written or oral contract.

Controverting Certificate: A document filed by any party to a case (other than the party who filed the Motion to Set and Certificate of Readiness) in which objections to the information contained in a Certificate of Readiness are stated.

Conviction: A judgment of guilt against the defendant.

Counseling Services: These services can help you deal with the emotional and psychological problems that often accompany domestic violence. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Counterclaim: A claim or cause of action brought by a defendant against a plaintiff in a lawsuit included in the defendant's answer and intending to off-set and/or reduce the amount of the plaintiff's original claim against the defendant.

County Attorney: The county's legal representative. The county attorney defends the county's interest in property tax cases. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Court: Any official tribunal (court) presided over by a judge or judges in which legal issues and claims are heard and determined.
  • Supreme Court: The highest court in the State of Arizona; the court of last resort; hears cases appealed to the supreme court from lower courts.
  • Court of Appeals:
    • Court of Appeals - Common Terms:
    • Mandate: An order or command issued by a judge or court which directs enforcement of the court's decision; can be from an appellate court directing action by a lower court from which an appeal was taken.
    • Memorandum Decision: A written disposition of a matter which explains a court's judgment. A Memorandum Decision is detailed, citing case precedents, analyzing the facts, the applicable law and the arguments of the attorneys for the parties.
      A Memorandum of Decision is not intended for publication.
    • Opinion: A written disposition of a matter which explains a court's judgment. An opinion is detailed, citing case precedents, analyzing the facts, the applicable law and the arguments of the attorneys for the parties.
      An Opinion is intended for publication.
    • Order: Any disposition of a matter before the court other than by opinion or memorandum decision.
    • Petition for Review: A formal written request to a court for judicial consideration of a lower court judgment by an appellate court, determining if there were legal errors sufficient to require reversal.
    • Publication: The distribution of opinions for reporting by publishing companies.
    • Remand: To send a case back to another court for further action.
    • Reverse: To overturn a previous ruling made by a lower court.
    • Special Action: Extraordinary remedy proceedings, different than direct appeals, which may be brought only from final, appealable orders and judgments. Discovery rulings, including orders granting or denying a motion to quash, are generally not considered final, appealable orders.
  • Superior Court: A general jurisdiction court that has authority to hear all legal actions not exclusively assigned to another court.
  • Municipal Court: A limited jurisdiction court that handles misdemeanor crimes and petty offenses and city ordinance and code violations and issues orders of protection and injunctions against harassment.
  • Justice of the Peace Court: A limited jurisdiction court with a justice of the peace serving as its judicial officer.

Court Fees and Costs: By Arizona law the court is required to charge fees to file many types of papers related to domestic relations, probate, and civil cases.
In some situations, the court may allow for a waiver or deferral of court costs or fees. Further Information.

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.

Crisis Intervention: These services can help you with the immediate crisis by giving you counseling, and information about medical or other help. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Cross-Claim: A claim by one party against a co-party (a defendant claiming against another defendant, or a plaintiff against another plaintiff) arising out of the original complaint.

Cross-Examination: After a witness has given evidence, the attorney for the opposing party examines or questions him about his testimony to verify or refute it.

CSEA (Child Support Enforcement Administration): The State agency charged with responsibility to provide certain support services. It is also referred to as the State IV-D agency.

Legal Decision Making (Custody) Order: An order entered by the court which states which parent should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor child or minor child(ren) and who the child(ren) should live with.
  1. Joint Legal Decision Making (Custody): both parents share important decisions about their child(ren).
  2. Sole Legal Decision Making (Custody): One parent has the sole ability to make important decisions about their child(ren).
  3. Custodial Parent: Person with legal Legal Decision Making (Custody) and with whom the child(ren) live(s).
  4. Non-Legal Decision Making (Custody) Parent: Parent who does not have primary Legal Decision Making (Custody) of a child but who is responsible for financial support.
  5. Primary Residential Parent: In joint Legal Decision Making (Custody) agreements, a term which indicates the parent with whom the child(ren) reside(s) the majority of the time.

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Damages: A monetary compensation which may be recovered in the courts by a person who has suffered a loss or injury through the unlawful act or negligence of another.

DCSS (Division of Child Support Services): A division of the Department of Economic Security, which has responsibility to provide certain support services. It is also referred to as the designated (IV-D) agency.

Debt: Determination of all separate and community debts and obligations of the parties, and an appropriate division and allocation of responsibility of all such debts and obligations.

Decree: An order of the Court given in civil cases. A final decree is one, which fully disposes of the litigation; an interlocutory decree is a preliminary order that often disposes of only part of a lawsuit.

Declaratory Judgment: A judgment that declares the rights of the parties or expresses the opinion of the court on a question of law without ordering anything to be done. NOTE: These cases are not subject to arbitration.

Default: The failure or neglect to answer a summons and complaint; or to appear in court.

Default Hearing: The hearing scheduled for cases in which the defendant has failed to appear or answer.

Default Judgment: A judgment awarded to a plaintiff because the defendant failed to appear and answer.

Defendant: The party against whom a claim is brought. In property tax disputes, this is the county that assessed or classified the property. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Deferral: See "Court Fees and Costs".

Deferred Fees: Court fees, which must be paid at a later date.

De novo: Latin for "anew," which means starting over, as in a trial de novo. For example, a decision in a small claims case may be appealed to a local trial court, which may try the case again, de novo.

Deposition: An oral statement made by a person before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. The attorney for the opposing party is notified to attend the deposition where he or she may cross-examine the deposed party. The deposition may sometimes be used later in trial or it may be taken only to obtain discovery.

Directed Verdict: A ruling by the court that there is not sufficient evidence to subject the dispute to the jury, and the court either enters or directs the jury to enter judgment in favor of a party.

Discharge: See "Resignation (Termination, Discharge)".

Disclosure: The pretrial process through which each party discloses to the other the evidence and witness testimony that will be presented in trial.

Disclosure Statement: A pleading which each party is required to file and submit a copy of to the other that discloses the factual basis for each claim/defense; a description of the damage(s) and copies of any exhibits substantiating the dollar value of the damage; the legal theory upon which each claim is based; the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses and a brief summary of their expected testimony; a list of documents or evidence which supports those claims. Unless otherwise ordered, each party must file and submit a copy of their disclosure statement to the other party within forty (40) days of the filing of the answer.

Discovery: The disclosure by one party of facts, titles, or documents, to the opposing party who needs this information to properly prosecute or defend the case.

Dismissal: An order of judgment that dismisses a complaint or counterclaim without a complete trial of the issues.

Dismissal With Prejudice: A final dismissal barring the right to bring an action on the same claim or cause.

Dismissal Without Prejudice: The right of a complainant to sue again on the same cause of action.

Disposable Earnings: Include salary, compensation, bonuses, or commissions a person received after deducting from such earning those amounts required by law to be withheld. May include unemployment insurance compensation benefits, workmen's compensation benefits, social security benefits, retirement benefits, lottery winnings, etc.

Division of Property and Debt: Arizona is called a community property state. This means any property you and your spouse acquired during the marriage (other than gifts or inheritances), or that was paid for during the marriage belongs to the both of you. When either spouse files for a divorce, all the community property must be divided into separate property, so each spouse is allocated a certain amount of the property, and a certain amount of the debt. In a divorce, each spouse is entitled to roughly half of the community property and debts. It usually does not matter who paid for the property directly, whose credit it was purchased under, or who uses the property most of the time. However, property that was received as a gift by one particular spouse, or that was an inheritance by one spouse, is not generally community property. Also, property that either spouse bought or acquired or paid for before the marriage is generally not community property. But there might be some other results if during the marriage the spouse continued to make payments on the property with community funds.

Divorce/Dissolution: Divorce (Dissolution) is a court process to dissolve or end a legal marriage. All the legal rights and relationships between the spouses resulting from marriage are ended as of the moment the judge signs the divorce decree. The divorce decree will specify everything between the spouses like Legal Decision Making (Custody), parent-child access parenting time), child support, division of property and debt, spousal maintenance (alimony), and can change the name of either party if he or she took the name of the other spouse at marriage and now wants to go back to the former name. Requirements to File for Divorce.

Docket: A formal record, entered in brief, of the proceedings in a court.

Domestic Violence: Domestic violence includes the following crimes that result in violence or the threat of violence against anyone in a domestic relationship: assault, threatening and intimidating, endangerment, custodial interference, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, criminal trespass, criminal damage, disorderly conduct and crimes against children. If you are in immediate danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, call 911 now. Also, see Warning Signs of Domestic Violence and Victim Options.

Due Process: The regular course of administration through the courts of justice, under the protection of the law and the U.S. Constitution enabling every person to have a fair and impartial trial or hearing.

Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives an adult authority to act on your behalf. The person you appoint to act on your behalf is known as the "Attorney in Fact" or agent. It is very important that your agent is someone you trust. The general and special powers of attorney can be made "durable" by adding certain text to the document. This means that the document will remain in effect or take effect if you become disabled or incapacitated.

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Emancipation: Condition where a minor child is legally treated as an adult.

Emergency Assignment: The permanent assignment of a judge to hear a civil case; done only if there is a need of an immediate emergency order by a judge.

Emergency Medical: These services are emergency rooms at hospitals or the fire department paramedics that can help you with immediate physical effects of domestic violence. Call 911 now if you need emergency medical help. Also, visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which can help with less immediate concerns.

Emergency Orders: Sometimes you may have a serious emergency requiring an immediate temporary court order. Cases that are considered emergencies are when someone is about to cause serious bodily harm to another person, or the health or safety or welfare of a person is in serious and immediate jeopardy. You cannot ask the judge for emergency court orders solely to get an earlier court hearing, or for any other improper purpose. It is up to the judge to decide whether you have an emergency or not.

Emergency Shelters: These are places located all around the county where you, and in most cases your children, can go when you leave the abusive person. The addresses of the shelters are usually kept secret so the abusing person cannot follow you there to continue the abuse. In the shelters you will have a safe place to stay, food, and often counseling, to help you and your family. Many shelters also have support groups and recovery counseling for victims who are still with their partners. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Eminent Domain: The power of a governmental entity (federal, state, county or city government, school district, hospital district or other agencies) to take private real estate for public use, with or without the permission of the owner. See also "condemnation".

Eminent Domain Action: The description for a lawsuit in which the state seeks to take private property to convert it for public use.

Employer: Used by Family Support includes all person or agencies from which wages are received by an Obligee and all persons or agencies that are obligated to make periodic payments to an Obligor on behalf of the Obligee under a Income Withholding Order.

Entitlements: All monies to the Obligor.

Estoppel: A rule of law precluding a person from asserting certain facts because of his/her prior conduct.

Evidence: Proof presented in court through the testimony of a witness, exhibits, records, objects or written documents to persuade the judge or jury as to an alleged fact or position.

Evidentiary Hearing: The presentation of facts and evidence to the court to decide an issue.

Excess Proceeds: If the proceeds of a Sheriff's sale exceed the amount of a judgment, interest and costs, the excess is paid to the clerk of the court for disbursement by the court.

Exemplify: To make an official copy of a legal document.

Exhibit: A document or material produced and identified in court for the purpose of introducing it in evidence. Each document or material produced is numerically marked by the courtroom clerk in order to identify it for the record.

Expedited Visitation Services (EVS): Family Support Unit program that assists the court in enforcing Legal Decision Making (Custody)/parenting time orders when parental cooperation is lacking.

Ex Parte: Communication with the court by one party without the presence or knowledge of the other party.

Ex Parte Order: An order entered by the court at the request of only one party without notice to the other party.

Explanation About Resignation, Termination, Discharge: This occurs when a minor reaches the age of 18, or if the ward needs a Guardian but the current Guardian is no longer willing or capable of continuing. In this kind of case, the court will appoint another guardian or conservator to take over. A guardianship of an adult can terminate, or end, when the ward dies or when the ward is found to be no longer incompetent.

You still need a court order that formally ends the Conservatorship and approves the final accounting. If you want to end a conservatorship for a minor, and the conservator or the minor live out of state, we have a special court process to help you avoid coming for a court hearing. Otherwise, you must come to court for the hearing to end the conservatorship and release the funds.

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Financial Fee: The fee required to be paid to the Clerk of the Superior Court for the filing of a document.

Financial Help: These services include emergency financial help, and also credit counseling, help finding jobs, and job training information. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

For Cause: Based upon some good reason.

Forcible Detainer: Exists when one is willfully kept out of or has been wrongfully deprived of possession of real property.

Forcible Detainer Action: Also Forcible Entry and Detainer - a legal action brought to recover possession of real property wrongfully kept or taken by another party.

Foreign Judgment/Foreign Decree: The filing of a certified copy of a judgment or decree from another state, county or country in order for this country to have jurisdiction.

Forfeiture: The loss of some right or property as a penalty for some illegal act. Loss of property or money because of breach of a legal obligation.

Foster Care: See "Community Services (For Minors)".

Full Cash Value: The fair market value, determined by standard appraisal methods and techniques. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

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Garnish: To obtain a court order directing a party holding funds (such as a bank) or about to pay wages (such as an employer) to an alleged debtor to set that money aside until the court determines (decides) how much the debtor owes to the creditor. Garnishing funds is also a warning to the party holding the funds (garnishee) not to pay them, and to inform the court as to how much money is being held. If the garnishee (such as a bank or employer) should mistakenly give the money to the account owner or employee, the garnishee will be liable to pay the creditor what he/she/it has coming.

Garnishee: The person against whom a garnishment has been declared; usually a debtor whose money or property is being withheld until a debt is paid.

Garnishment: The entire process of petitioning for and getting a court order directing a person or entity (garnishee) to hold funds they owe to someone who allegedly is in debt to another person, often after a judgment has been rendered. Usually the actual amounts owed have not been figured out or are to be paid by installments directly or through the sheriff.

General Power of Attorney: A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the authority to carry out business transactions for you. Types of business transactions might include selling a house, cashing Social Security checks, or making other financial decisions. The person you appoint to act in your place is known as the "attorney in fact" or your agent. It is very important that your agent is someone you trust. A General Power of Attorney has a beginning and an end date.
  • General Power of Attorney - This power of attorney delegates unlimited authority to another person for them to act on your behalf.
  • Special Power of Attorney - This power of attorney delegates limited authority to another person for them to act on your behalf.
  • Parental Power of Attorney - This power of attorney temporarily delegates parental powers for six months unless you are active in the military.
  • Durable Power of Attorney -The general and special powers of attorney can all be made "durable" by adding certain text to the document. This means that the document will remain in effect or take effect if you become disabled or incapacitated.
Gross Income: Includes income from any source and may include but is not limited to, income from salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, workmen's compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, prizes and spousal maintenance received.

Grounds: Reason for divorce. The term is not used in Arizona. Arizona is a no-fault state. The only requirement for divorce in Arizona is that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

Guardian Ad Litem: A guardian appointed by the court to prosecute or defend for a minor or incapacitated person in any suit to which he/she may be a party.

Guardianship for Gravely Disabled Persons: A person becomes an adult at age 18 and has the rights of an adult, including the right to refuse medical treatment, even treatment for a mental disorder. Sometimes, a person with a mental disorder may be so severely disabled that someone else must make decisions about his or her mental health treatment.

If the court decides that the person is "gravely disabled," the judge may appoint a Guardian with special authority to make mental health treatment decisions. This Guardian is called a "Title 36 Guardian." Further Information and Resources.

Guardianship of a Minor: Guardian of a minor is someone other than a parent who is appointed by the judge to make decisions for a child under the age of 18. Generally, the Guardian of a minor has the same authority and responsibility that a parent has to provide food, housing, medical care, education and supervision. Unlike a parent, a Guardian is not required to provide for the child from personal funds, and is not necessarily financially responsible to others for the actions of the ward, just because of the Guardianship. Further Information.

Guardianship of an Adult: A Guardian is appointed by the judge to make decisions for someone who, because of mental or physical illness, disability or alcohol or drug abuse, can't make those decisions. The law calls this individual an "incapacitated person." An incapacitated adult for whom a Guardian has been appointed is referred to by law as a "ward." The decisions a Guardian makes concerning arrangements for the adult ward includes: housing, education, medical care, food, clothing, and social activities.

Often, friends or family members ask the court for legal authority to act as Guardian. When no friend or family member is willing to accept this responsibility, the judge may appoint a private fiduciary who charges fees for services provided. If the ward has no money, the judge may appoint the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary as Guardian. Further Information.

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Harassment: According to Arizona law, harassment must involve a series of acts. Just one incident, no matter how much it bothers you, does not constitute legal harassment. According to the law this series of acts:
  • can be spread over a long or short period of time; and,
  • must be the same type of repetitive act against you; and,
  • must be directed at you; and,
  • must seriously alarm, annoy, or harass you without serving a legitimate purpose; and,
  • must be the kinds of acts that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; and,
  • must actually cause you to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Harassment Petition: The document filed by a party asking for an injunction against any act of harassment by another party (not applicable for spouse or former spouse).

Health Care Directive: Another type of power of attorney. Two common types of health care directives are a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.
  • A health care power of attorney is a written statement you sign in which you name an adult you trust to make health care decisions for you only when you cannot make or communicate such decisions yourself.
  • A living will is a written statement that tells your doctor a specific list of medical treatments you want and do not want performed on you if you become unable to speak for yourself.
These documents must be notarized and witnessed in a form that complies with the requirements of the law.

Give copies of either your health care power of attorney or your living will to your doctors as soon as you sign them and to any health care facility if you are admitted for treatment. You should also tell your doctor how your agent, with the power of attorney for health care, can be reached. Also, tell your agents where you keep the original document you signed, and give your agents and family members a copy.

These kinds of powers do not expire or end unless you either replace them with a new document, or sign a document called a "revocation" to end the power.

There are forms to help you with this in legal stores and in bookstores. Also available at the SSC.

Health Care Power of Attorney: See "Health Care Directive".

Hearing: A procedure before a judge sitting without a jury during which evidence may be taken and witnesses may be heard to determine an issue and come to a decision generally on a less formal basis than a trial.

Hearsay: Testimony given by a witness who relates not what he or she knows personally but what others have said.

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iCIS: Integrated Court Information System.

IV-D Cases: Cases in which a party has required service of the Department of Economic Security, or has been automatically referred to DES to collect child support.

Impeach: To dispute or challenge the credibility or validity of the testimony of a witness.

In Camera: If the court orders that a document be reviewed in camera, the party who possesses the document shall submit the document ex parte to the court. The court will then privately review the document to determine whether it should be further disclosed under applicable laws and rules.

Inactive Calendar: - The name used for the calendar on which civil cases are placed by Civil Court Administration or by a judge, if no judgment has been obtained nor motion to set and certificate of readiness has been filed within nine (9) months of the filing of the complaint. (Any case placed on the Inactive Calendar by Court Administration will be dismissed by the Court Administration, unless a judge continues it on the Inactive Calendar; any case placed on the Inactive Calendar by a judge will be dismissed by a judge.)

Injunction Against Harassment: If you are being harassed by anyone, related or otherwise, you may file legal paperwork with the court to request an Injunction Against Harassment. When you file an Injunction Against Harassment you are the plaintiff. The person you want protection from is the defendant. Unlike the Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment is not based on criminal behavior and is not based on the relationship between the parties. Injunction Against Harassment Forms can be picked up at any of the Municipal Courts in Maricopa County.

See Also
When You Can File For an Injunction Against Harassment
What To Do Once The Judge Has Signed Your Order
Information on Procedures For Opposing an Injunction Against Harassment.

Interim Order of Judgment: An order issued by a judge or commissioner after reviewing the conference offer's report and recommendations. The parties have 25 days from the date the order is filed by the Clerk of the Superior Court to review and object to the interim order before it becomes a final judgment or order.

Interlocutory Stay: A provisional or temporary order made pending a final decision or outcome. The order is subject to change by the court, which makes it often not appealable until the entire matter has been disposed of by final judgment.

Interpleader Action: An equitable proceeding to determine the rights of rival claimants to property held by a third person having no interest in the property. (When two or more persons claim the same thing (or fund) of a third, and he, laying no claim to it himself, is ignorant as to which of them has a right to it and fears he may be prejudiced by their proceeding against him to recover it, he may join such claimants as defendants and require them to interplead their claims so that he may not be exposed to double or multiple liability.)

Interrogatories: Written questions asked of one party to a lawsuit by an opposing party, which must be answered in writing and under oath, and which may be used as evidence by the party demanding them, if relevant. It also can mean questions submitted to a jury.

Intervener: One who intervenes as a third party in a legal proceeding.


Joint Legal Decision Making (Custody): See "Shared Legal Decision Making (Custody)".

Joint Tenancy: See "Title to Property".

Judge Assignment: The permanent assignment of a case to a calendar division.

Judge Pro Tem: Arizona is one of the few states that allows an attorney to be appointed a judge with full powers for the length of a case or series of proceedings. In Maricopa County, pro tem judges are employed to keep backlogs down and cover for vacation schedules.

Judgment: The formal decision of a court; the final determination of a case.

Judgment Creditor: A person who has won a case but who has not yet collected the debt.

Judgment Debtor: A person who has lost a case but who has not yet paid the debt; one who owes money as a result of a judgment.

Judgment Debtor Exam: (also known as Supplemental Proceeding) - A hearing scheduled by a judgment creditor in which the judgment debtor is examined under oath concerning the debtor's assets. Financial records, tax returns and other relevant information can be obtained to determine whether the debtor has any assets with which to satisfy the judgment.

Judicial Officer: A judge, commissioner, referee, special master or judge pro tem.

Jurisdiction: The legal authority of the court to hear and decide cases; the exercise of judicial power within certain geographic boundaries.

Jurisprudence: The science or philosophy of law.

Jury: A group of citizens called to hear the details of a lawsuit, to find for the plaintiff or defendant and to determine the amount, if any, to be awarded.


No entries have been made at this time.

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Laches: Negligence or unreasonable delay in pursuing a legal remedy.

Legal Separation: A court process to determine some of the important rights and relationships between the spouses, but does not divorce them. So, the spouses are still married, and many legal relationships do not change, like property and debt obligations or rights. The decree for legal separation can specify various relationships between the spouses like Legal Decision Making (Custody), parent-child access (parenting time), child support, and Spousal maintenance (alimony) as well as a division of community property and debt up to the date of the court order, but all the legal rights and relationships resulting from marriage are not ended as with divorce.

Letters Rogatory: A written request by a judge to a judge in another state asking that a witness in the other state have his/her testimony taken in the other state's court for use in the local court case.

Lis Peneden: Latin for "Litigation Pending". A notice filed and recorded in the Office of the County Recorder that warns others that the title to certain property is in litigation.

List of Witness ad Exhibits: A document filed by parties to a lawsuit which lists all witnesses and exhibits intended to be used at trial.

Litigant: A person who chooses to litigate a legal matter within the court system.

Living Will: See "Health Care Directive" Available from SSC.

Lower Court Appear "LCA": A category of civil cases involving criminal and civil appeals from the Municipal Courts and Justice of the Peace Courts, special actions, writs of habeas corpus, and administrative appeals. All Lower Court Appeal cases are assigned to the appeals department downtown.


Mandate: An order or command issued by a judge or court which directs enforcement of the court's decision; can be from an appellate court directing action by a lower court from which an appeal was taken.

Mediation: A process by which parties are encouraged to reach agreements in their case prior to a court hearing.

Medical Malpractice Action: The description of all actions for injury or death brought against a health care provider, alleging negligence, misconduct, errors or omissions, or breach of contract in the rendering of health care, medical services, nursing services or other health related services or for the rendering of such health care, medical services, nursing services or other health-related services without express or implied consent. Examples of health care providers include physicians, hospitals and their employees who provide health care, medical services, nursing services or other health-related services.

Medical-Dental: These are non-emergency services that may be available that are reduced or no cost to you and your family. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Medical Insurance: Considered part of child support. If the parent who is ordered to make the child support payment is the same parent who pays the children's medical insurance premium, the Child Support Order is usually lowered to account for the cost of the medical insurance. Similarly, if the parent who receives the child support payment is the same parent who pays the children's medical insurance premium, the Child Support Order is usually raised. Further Information.

MEEDS: Minute entry electronic distribution system. An automated system by which minute entries are processed.

Minor Children: Children who are under the age of 18.

Minute Entry: A written record of court settings and judges' rulings on cases. Minute entries are used for a variety of purposes to notify parties of court rulings, court proceedings, and hearings that are set. Minute Entries are most often prepared by the Clerk's Office, but are occasionally prepared by Court Administration. (Minute entries are placed in the court file, distributed to the Court Administrator's office, and sent to the parties in a case when a judge enters an order).

Modification: To change an existing court order.

Moot: A subject for argument; unsettled; undecided or no longer requiring decision. A moot point is one not settled by judicial decision.

Motion: A written application to the court to obtain a ruling, order or direction.

Motion in Limine: A pretrial motion where a party requests a ruling from the court that prohibits the opposing party from raising a particular, highly prejudicial issue at trial.

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings: A written request for a judgment in the moving party's favor exclusively on the pleadings in a case (complaint, answer, reply to the answer, if any), i.e. without consideration of any evidence.

Motion for Summary Judgment: A written request for a judgment in the moving party's favor before a lawsuit goes to trial and based on testimony recorded outside court, affidavits, depositions, admissions of act and/or answers to written interrogatories, claiming that all factual and legal issues can be decided in the moving party's favor.

Motion to Set and Certificate of Readiness: A motion by any party to a lawsuit to cause a case to be set for trial, in which the party certifies readiness for trial.

Motion to Strike: A motion to disallow certain evidence in an upcoming trial.

Moving Party: The party (movant or applicant) who has filed a written request for relief, regardless of whether or not that party was the petitioner or respondent in the initial petition.


Negligence: Failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.

Net Income: See "disposable earnings".

Non-Classified Civil: A category of civil cases for those types of cases that do not fit in the other specific categories; examples: quiet title actions, name changes.

Non-IV-D Case: A case that is not brought by a IV-D agency or a IV-D participant to establish paternity, establish or modify support, or to enforce spousal support. These cases are referred to as "private cases".

Nonparty at Fault: A person or entity not a party to a lawsuit, but alleged to be wholly or partially at fault in causing personal injury, property damage or wrongful death for which damages are sought in the action. At the trial, the jury or judge may consider the fault of all persons who contributed to the alleged injury. If the fault of a nonparty is proven or stipulated, the jury or judge cannot disregard it.

Notice of Appeal: Notice to the Court and to the other parties to the suit that a party intends to exercise his or her right to appeal. This is the first step in making an appeal.

Notice of Appointment of Arbitrator: A notice, sent by Court Administration, to the parties of a case that an arbitrator has been appointed.

Notice of Change of Judge/Commissioner: In any action pending in superior court, except Arizona Tax Court, each side is entitled as a matter of right, to a change of one judge and one court commissioner.

Notice of Dismissal: The document filed by a plaintiff advising the Court that the suit is being dismissed.

Nunc Pro Tunc: Latin term meaning now for then - used in minute entries or orders to give retroactive effect to acts as though they had been doing previously. Usually used to correct an oversight or error.


Obligee: Person to whom support is owed.

Obligor: Person ordered to make support payments.

Offender: (Abuser or Batterer)
You may be an offender or be in danger of becoming an offender if:
  • you are very jealous; or
  • you sulk silently when you are upset; or
  • you have an explosive temper; or
  • you criticize and put down your partner a lot; or
  • you have difficulty expressing your feelings; or
  • you believe that it is your role to be in charge; or
  • you have contempt for the opposite sex; or
  • you protect your partner to the point of controlling; or
  • you try to control your partner's behavior, money and decisions; or
  • you have broken things, thrown things at your partner, choked, hit, shoved or kicked your partner when you were angry, or threatened your partner.
See Also Behaviors of an Offender, Abuser, or Batterer

Oral Argument: A hearing at which parties have an opportunity to make oral presentations of their positions to the court.

Order: A document signed by a judge/commissioner enforceable by law.

Order About and for the Use of Restricted Funds: Often when a Conservatorship is ordered, the judge will specifically state what property or assets are restricted. Restricted means the Conservator cannot touch these assets without further order of the court. Sometimes a Conservator needs to ask the judge for permission to do something different than what is already allowed with restricted money. Further Information.

Order of Protection: Issued in cases where the criminal behavior of one person is against a person who is in a particular relationship with one offending person. You can file an Order of Protection if you meet the following:
  • you and the person you are seeking the Order against are or were married; or
  • if you have a child together or are expecting a child together; or
  • if you are of the opposite sex and live together or have lived together; or
  • if you are blood relatives or related by marriage.
Order of Protection Forms can be picked up at any of the Municipal Courts in Maricopa County.
See Also
What To Do Once The Judge Has Signed The Order of Protection
Information on How to Oppose an Order of Protection
What an Order of Protection Will Provide

Order to Show Case "OSC"/Order to Appear: An order from the court requiring a party to appear in court and show cause why the party applying for the order should not be granted the relief sought therein.

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Parent-Child Access/Parenting Time: Determination of the time children spend with each parent (or others ordered to have Legal Decision Making (Custody) or control of a child or children under Arizona law) according to the best interests of the child(ren). This is also known as "parenting time".

Parental Power of Attorney: A Parental Power of Attorney is sometimes called a form for Delegation of Parental Powers. A person (usually a parent or guardian) signs a Parental Power of Attorney in front of a notary to give a trusted and willing person (Attorney-in-Fact or Agent) power to temporarily act in place of the parent or guardian for up to 6 months. If you are active in the military, this power of attorney may last up to one year. The parent or guardian in this case is called the Principal. A Parental Power of Attorney must be notarized.

Party: A person or governmental agency named in a case.

Paternity: Court action to determine whether an alleged father is biologically the father of a child, and as such, responsible for support and entitled to parenting time or Legal Decision Making (Custody).

Payor: The person or agency who pays, or who is obligated to make periodic payments to an Obligor.

Pensions and Retirement Funds: Community property also applies to pensions and retirement funds and profit sharing and stock plans. Generally each spouse has a right to one-half interest in the spouses plan, but ONLY for the number of years of the marriage. The longer your marriage, the greater your financial interest is in each other's plan. If you or your spouse have retirement plans, you will need to file a document with the court that is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or a QDRO to divide the plan. This is a very specialized legal document that almost always requires professional assistance to prepare. Further Information.

Petition: A legal form of pleading used to raise an issue to the court; a written request to the court for an order after notice.

Petitioner: A person bringing an action by petition.

Petition for Appointment as Guardian or Conservator for Adults: Before you file court papers for appointment as a Guardian or Conservator, you must decide if you are asking for a Guardianship, a Conservatorship, or both.

You need to complete the petition and other papers for permanent appointment. You will need the name of a doctor who will examine the person and make a written report to the court about why the person needs a guardian or conservator. Also, you must get a lawyer appointed to represent the person you say needs a guardian or conservator. Then, file the papers at the court and get the hearing date set. Hearing dates are generally set about 6-8 weeks after the paperwork is filed.

Petition for Appointment as Guardian or Conservator for Minors: Before you file court papers for appointment as a Guardian or Conservator, you must decide if you are asking for a Guardianship, a Conservatorship, or both.

You will need to get a signed document from the parents of the minor that allows you to be appointed the guardian. This is called a voluntary consent. And, if you are not related to the minor, you will have to be fingerprinted by the Department of Public Safety. You then need to complete the petition and other court papers for permanent appointment.

After you file the court papers and go for fingerprints, you will have to give notice of the court hearing on the appointment request to everyone who is entitled to know about what you are doing. If the judge appoints you as guardian or conservator, you must fulfill all your duties under the court order until you are formally dismissed by another court order.

It usually takes about 3½ months from the time you file the court papers to get a guardian or a conservator for a minor appointed, unless it is an emergency.

Petition for Child Support Legal Decision Making (Custody) Determination: An order for the court for a party to bring a minor child to court.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: The initial pleading that allows a party to ask the court to end or dissolve a marriage.

Petition for Temporary Orders: See "Temporary Orders".

Plaintiff: The person that initiates a lawsuit. In small claims tax appeals this is party bringing the appeal - or complaint - against the county. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Pleading: The written statements of the parties to a lawsuit.

Police: Police help with violence on the scene, and some departments also offer civil stand-by which is when an officer goes with you to your home to help you safely get your personal or your children's property. A civil stand-by cannot be used to divide shared or community property. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Praecipe: A written request to a court to issue a writ or otherwise require an action from a party to a suit.

Presumption: The assessor's estimated market value and classification is presumed valid in property tax appeals. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the value differs or that the classification is incorrect. See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Pretrial Conference: A meeting between the parties held prior to trial in an attempt to solve contested issues.

Probate Case: When a person dies, you might have to come to probate court if:
  • the person's property did not pass on automatically according to the title or arrangements such as joint tenancy, community property, or a trust, AND
  • the estate is large enough that the property cannot pass on as a small estate.
Probate court is not generally very difficult. Almost always the case is handled as an informal probate, which means that court orders are signed simply by filing paperwork at court, and without supervision by a judge and any court hearings. Even if part of the case is handled formally, which means a court hearing is necessary to straighten out some detail, the rest of the case can be informal. Further Information also, How to Distribute Some Property without Probate Court.

Proceeding: An action at law and suit in equity.

Pro Hac Vice: Request by an out-of-state attorney not admitted to practice law in the State of Arizona, through an Arizona attorney, to practice on a limited basis for the particular party/case.

Property: Determination of the separate and community interest of all parties in all real and personal property, and an appropriate affirmation or division of all property interests of the parties.
  1. Community Property: Any property, real or personal, obtained during the marriage by either spouse and paid for by money earned during the marriage. Each spouse owns 50% of the community property even if the title to the property is only in one spouse's name.
  2. Separate Property: Any property, real or personal, obtained prior to the marriage by either spouse. Also, any property real or personal acquired by either souse during the marriage through a gift or an inheritance. Separate property belongs entirely to that one spouse.
  3. Insurance: Certain types of insurance policies have a cash value, which can be divided between the spouses at the time of the divorce.
  4. Retirement/Work Related Benefits: Any pension, profit sharing, 401K Plan, retirement plan or IRA account which is given to a spouse by the employer. If these benefits are given during the marriage, the Court may give each spouse a share in the benefit even though only one souse's employer gave such benefits.

Property Payable on Death to a Named Beneficiary: See "Title to Property".

Provisional Remedy: A generic term for any temporary order of a court to protect a party from irreparable damage while a lawsuit or petition is pending.

Pro se (pro per): A person who is not represented by an attorney.

Punitive Damages: Damages in excess of actual damages incurred by a plaintiff and awarded as a measure of punishment for a defendant's wrongful and malicious acts.

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Quash: To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.

QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order): A document signed by the court after the Decree is granted which orders an employer to divide certain retirement/work-related benefits between the former spouses.

Quiet Title Action: A lawsuit to establish a party's title to real property against anyone and everyone, and settle claims to rightful ownership of property.


Receiver: A neutral person (often a professional trustee) appointed by a judge to take charge of the property and business of one of the parties to a lawsuit and receive his/her rents and profits while the right to the moneys has not been finally decided.

Reciprocal Matters: Interstate and local support matter handled by the Attorney General's Office.

Remand: To send back a case to another court or agency for further action.

Remittitur: To reduce amount of verdict when damages awarded by the jury appear to be excessive.

Replevin: An action for the recovery of a possession that has been wrongfully taken.

Request for Admission: Also a request to admit. Written statements of facts concerning a case which are submitted to an adverse party and which that party must admit or deny; a discovery device.

Resignation (Termination, Discharge): Orders the judge may enter in your case while you are waiting to finalize the divorce. Either the Petitioner or the respondent can file for temporary orders. Temporary orders are short-term decisions by the judge about child support, Legal Decision Making (Custody), parent-child access (parenting time), Spousal maintenance, property, and payment of debts, until a final court order on the case. To file for temporary orders you need a special court form called the Petition for Temporary Orders, and some other documents. You also need to get a hearing date scheduled for the judge to decide about the temporary order petition.

Respite Care: See "Community Services (For Minors)".

Respondent: A person who answers or responds to a petition.

Response/Answer: A written reply to any document requesting court action.


Sanction: A financial penalty imposed by a judge on a party or attorney for violation of a court rule, or as a fine for contempt of court.

Sealing: If the court orders that a paper or electronic record or portion of a record is to be sealed, the record or portion of the record shall be sealed by the Clerk of Court, and the record or portion of the record shall be accessible or disclosed only to those persons designated by order of the court.

Security for costs: The loser in legal proceedings must pay the legal costs of the successful party. Where a defendant has a reasonable apprehension that its legal costs will not be paid for by the plaintiff if the defendant is successful, the defendant can apply to the court for an order that the plaintiff provide security for costs. Security is usually provided in the form of a bank check paid into the court, or held in a trust account operated jointly by both the plaintiff's and defendant's lawyers. If the defendant is successful, the money can be applied against the costs order. If the plaintiff is successful, the security is returned to the plaintiff.

Self-Representation: See "Tips on Self-Representation".

Separate Property: The name for property acquired before marriage, or during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. Any property bought during marriage with separate property, and kept as separate property, is not community property. When a person dies, separate property will pass on to others according to how title to the property is held, like joint tenancy or payable on death to a beneficiary, or according to any other legal documents, like a will, or a trust, or according to the laws of inheritance. Further Information.

Service: The delivery of a writ, notice, or injunction, by an authorized person to officially notify another party of a proceeding in which he or she is concerned.

Service of Process: The service of writs, summonses, or rules to the party to whom they ought to be delivered.

Set Aside: To vacate a judgment or order.

Settlement: An agreement reached through negotiation by parties involved in a legal dispute.

Sexually Violent Person: An inmate serving a sentence in prison for sexual crimes and determined by a medical professional to be a potentially violent person.

Shared Legal Decision Making (Custody): Shared or joint Legal Decision Making (Custody) is when both parents take the responsibility for making decisions and for raising the children. Generally each parent has parent-child access rights (parenting time), and generally both parents also share physical Legal Decision Making (Custody). Parents who want the court to order joint Legal Decision Making (Custody) must file a Joint Legal Decision Making (Custody) Agreement signed by both parents before the judge will sign the divorce decree.

Sheriff's Sale: An auction sale of property held by the sheriff pursuant to a writ (court order) of execution (to seize and sell the property) to satisfy (pay) a judgment, after notice to the public.

Simplified Modification: A procedure in which a person paying or receiving child support attempts to show that, because of a change in circumstances, the current child support order should be modified/changed.

Small Claims: Any lawsuit brought by one party/company against another party/company where the amount of money requested does not exceed $2,500. This type of case is heard in the Justice of the Peace courts. For more information about the Justice of the Peace courts in Maricopa County, including links to small claims forms & instructions, click here.

Small Claims Tax Appeal: See Arizona Tax Court Information.

Sole Legal Decision Making (Custody): When one parent has full legal responsibility for the child, although the other parent may have parent-child access rights parenting time.

Special Action: A special review of lower court decisions that is available only when an appeal would not be an adequate remedy.

Special Power of Attorney: A legal document that gives an adult limited authority to act on your behalf for a specific purpose. The person you appoint to act on your behalf is known as the "Attorney in Fact" or agent. It is very important that your agent is someone you trust. A Special Power of Attorney has a beginning and an end date. Further Information

Spousal Maintenance: The money that is paid by one spouse to the other as part of the divorce decree. The payment is designed to be a safety net for a spouse who cannot provide for his or her needs or who meets other requirements under law. The idea behind Spousal maintenance is that the accomplishments of the spouses during the marriage, including increases in earning potential and living standards, are shared and earned by BOTH spouses, not just the spouse who gets a paycheck or has a job. Spousal maintenance is paid separately from child support and is not a substitute for or a supplement to child support payments. Further Information.

Stay: A temporary stop or delay in a judicial proceeding.

Stipulation: An agreement between the parties in a lawsuit.

Strike: To delete or cancel.

Strike List: Used when a case is on the arbitration calendar; the document mailed to the parties allowing them to strike or eliminate the names of those person whom they do not want to be appointed as an arbitrator in their case.

Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.

Subpoena Duces Tecum: A command to a witness to produce at a trial or hearing documents or papers in his or her possession that are pertinent to the issues of a pending case.

Subsequent Employer: Refers to any employer, other than the first employer of an Obligor upon whom an Income Withholding Order has been served. A subsequent employer must honor the Income Withholding Order as the first employer did.

Summons: Instrument used to commence a civil action or special proceeding: the means of acquiring jurisdiction over a party.

Supercedeas Bond: A bond that a court requires from an appellant who wants to delay payment of a judgment until the appeal is over.

Supervised Visitation: Visitation by a parent with his or her child while another adult (other than the custodial parent) is present.

Support: The provision of maintenance or subsistence, including medical insurance coverage and uncovered medical costs for the child, arrears, interest on arrears, past support, interest on past support, and reimbursement for extended public assistance. Support may also include spousal maintenance.

Support Order: Any order entered by the court for the payment of support. Support may include payment for medical, dental, and other health care, child care, and education expenses as well as spousal maintenance.

Suppress: To forbid the use of evidence at a trial because it is improper or was improperly obtained.

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Temporary Orders: Orders the judge may enter in your case while you are waiting to finalize the divorce. Either the Petitioner or the respondent can file for temporary orders. Temporary orders are short-term decisions by the judge about child support, Legal Decision Making (Custody), parent-child access (parenting time), Spousal maintenance, property, and payment of debts, until a final court order has been issued on the case. To file for temporary orders you need a special court form called the Petition for Temporary Orders, and some other documents. You also need to get a hearing date scheduled for the judge to decide about the temporary order petition. Further Information.

Temporary Restraining Order - TRO: An emergency order restricting a party (or parties) from committing a threatened act until a hearing is held on the issue(s).

Termination: See "Resignation (Termination, Discharge)".

Termination of Parental Rights: A judicial order ending a parent's legal relationship with the child(ren).

Testimony: Information supplied by people involved in a dispute. Testimony is given under oath, a legally binding promise to tell the truth.

Third-Party Complaint: A complaint filed by a defendant, as a third-party plaintiff, against a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to the third-party plaintiff for all or part of the plaintiff's complaint against the third-party plaintiff.

Title 36 Guardian: See "Guardianship For Gravely Disabled Persons".

Title to Property: When a person dies, you need to know how title to the property was held by the person to know who gets it at death. Here are some general guidelines to help you:
  • Joint tenancy is property that is held in the names of 2 or more people as joint tenants with a right of survivorship. This means that when any joint tenant dies, the survivors automatically own the share of the person who died. Examples of this kind of ownership can include deeds to houses, titles to vehicles, government bonds, and bank accounts.
  • Property payable on death to a named beneficiary goes to the beneficiary when the person dies. Examples of this are life insurance policies and some retirement funds.
Many kinds of property have the type of ownership written right on the legal document. Deeds to houses, titles to motor vehicles, bank accounts, retirement plans, and government bonds usually list the names of the owners and how the property is owned -- for example, as joint tenancy, as payable on death to a certain beneficiary, etc. Further Information.

Tort: A civil (not criminal) wrong or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another. A wrong act committed by one person against another; a violation of a legal duty that one person has toward another (except one involving breach of contract). Torts include all negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs which result in harm.

Tort Motor Vehicle Action: Includes all actions for damages for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death arising out of an automobile accident, collision, or other operation of a motor vehicle.

Tort Non-Motor Vehicle Action: Includes all tort actions not included under tort motor vehicle except medical malpractice and breach of contract actions. Examples: libel and slander, personal injury, property damage resulting from other than operation of a motor vehicle, and fraud.

Transcript: The official verbatim record of testimony at a trial or hearing taken by a court report.

Transfer of Property of a Person who has Died: When a person dies, family members often wonder what to do about the person's property. Here is how to decide what to do.
  • Gather up all the paperwork -- a will (if one exists), tax records, titles to cars and vehicles, deeds to houses, checking and savings accounts, all paperwork about social security, savings bonds, insurance policies, retirement plans, investments, loans, payments, and credit records.
  • Now you are ready to decide what to do about the property.
    • First, decide how each piece of property was legally held by the person who died. To do this you need to know a little about community property, separate property, and joint tenancies well as trusts and wills.
    • Then, see what property can be passed on without going to probate court.
    • Finally, even if you need to file a case in probate court to pass on the property, it is generally not hard to do. Click here for that information. See "Probate Case".
Transportation: These services include Dial-A-Ride and bus or taxi information. Visit our Resources page to find a listing of services which may be able to assist in your needs.

Trial: A proceeding in court to decide a controversy where parties may be called upon to appear and testify and where evidence is taken; may be to the court (judge) or to a jury.

Trial de novo: A form of appeal in which the appeals court holds a trial as if no prior trial had been held. A trial de novo is common on appeals from small claims court judgments.

Trusts: Estate planning tools that name a trustee to manage a person's assets during his or her lifetime, and tells the trustee how to distribute those assets when the person dies. Unlike a will, a trust can reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and the need for probate court. Further Information.

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Under Advisement: After hearing, the judge may rule while on the bench or later in chambers. When ruling later in chambers, the matter is referred to as "taken under advisement".

UCJEA (Uniform Legal Decision Making (Custody) Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act): A law that helps the court determine which state has jurisdiction regarding Legal Decision Making (Custody).

Uncontested: Matters before the court in which parties have not expressed disagreements.

URESA (Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement Act): A law which provides a way to establish and enforce support obligations when the obligor lives in one state and the obligee and child(ren) live in another.


Vacate: To remove a hearing form the court's calendar.

Venue: To the county, city, judicial district, or geographical area over which a certain court has power to exercise jurisdiction.

Visitation: The schedule of time when a child will be with someone other than a legal parent.

Voir Dire: The jury selection phase of a trial; a preliminary examination of a prospective juror by a judge or lawyer to decide whether the prospect is qualified and suitable to serve on a jury.


Waiver: See "Court Fees and Costs".

Will: If a person dies without a valid Will, Arizona law determines who inherits the estate. If a person dies with a Will, the Will usually determines who gets the property of the person who died. A Will can also be used to say who should take care of children under the age of 18, or someone who is disabled. The requirements for a Will are very technical. A Will written in another state, that is valid in that state, is usually valid in Arizona. A Will that is written in the handwriting of the person making the Will is valid in Arizona if it is in the handwriting of the person who died and was signed and dated by the person before death. Once a Will is written, the original should be kept in a safe place so it can be found when the person who wrote the Will dies. A Will does NOT need to be recorded with the County Recorder. The Court does not accept Wills for safekeeping until the person dies. The Court only accepts a Will if a probate in court is required. Further Information.

With Prejudice: A declaration which dismisses all rights. A judgment barring the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim or cause.

Without Prejudice: A declaration that no rights or privileges of the party concerned are waived or lost. In a dismissal, these words maintain the right to be a subsequent suit on the same claim.

Witness: An individual with information about a legal dispute who is called to provide that information to a court.

Writ: A formal written command, issued from the Court, requiring the performance of a specific act.

Writ of Certiorari: A writ by which an appellant seeks the review of a case by the Supreme Court of the United States. When the writ is granted, the court orders the lower court to send up the record of the case for review.

Writ of Execution: A writ to put in force the judgment or decree of the court.

Writ of Garnishment: A court order to a lending institution or employer to attach a person's bank accounts or pay check for monies to repay a debt.

Writ of Habeus Corpus: An independent proceeding instituted to determine whether a defendant is being unlawfully deprived of his or her liberty.

Writ of Replevin: A court order authorizing an officer to seize and hold the property involved in a suit of replevin.

Writ of Restitution: An order that, after the reversal of a judgment, restores to a party all that was lost by occasion of the judgment.

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Yearly Accounting by Conservator: The Conservator must file for approval of accounting with the court EVERY YEAR on or before the anniversary date of appointment as Conservator, if any of the funds or assets are not restricted. If the Conservator is also the Guardian, then the Guardian Conservator must also submit the annual report of Guardian at the same time. The petition for approval of the annual accounting must include $175.00 to pay for review by the Court Accountant. Further Information.


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