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Family Law Glossary

A bifurcation of a case enables the Court to make orders and finalize specific issues of a case, while reserving the determination of remaining issues at a later date. For example, the Court can terminate marital status while reserving other issues to be determined at a later date.
Child Support
The legal responsibility of a parent to provide financial support for his/her children.
Dissolution (Divorce)
The termination of a marital relationship between two people. This can encompass the division of the couple's assets and debts, determination of child custody, visitation and child and spousal support issues. The termination of a couple's marital status enables the couple to return to the status of unmarried persons.
Family Law Facilitator
The Facilitator assists parties with children who are filing without an attorney and who have child custody, child support or spousal support issues, by making sure that documents to be filed with the Court are in the correct procedural format. The Family Law Facilitator Office can assist with understanding the legal process and in answering questions regarding the format of documents but is not able to give legal advice on a case.
Joint Custody
Both parents agree to share in the joint legal and physical custody of their children.
Joint Legal Custody
Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Joint Physical Custody
Children spend a significant amount of time with each parent.
Legal Custody
The right and responsibility of a parent to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Legal Separation
A legal separation enables a married couple to divide their assets and debts, determine child custody and visitation and order child and spousal support while leaving the parties legally married.
Child Custody Recommending Counseling
A process in which parents are provided a neutral setting to meet together and work out an agreement about custody and visitation issues that are in the best interests of their children.
Child Custody Recommending Counselor
A skilled professional with extensive clinical experience in the fields of psychology, marriage, family and child counseling or social work. Counselors are trained in conflict resolution.
A nullity declares a marriage invalid and allows the parties to return to the status of unmarried persons. A nullity requires a finding of fraud, prior existing marriage, unsound mind, force, physical incapacity or petitioner's age at time of marriage. It is not based on the length of a marriage.
Parental Relationship (Paternity)
A parental relationship action establishes the parent of a parent-child relationship. These cases are always confidential in nature.
Physical Custody
Custody establishes how much time the children spend with each parent, where the children reside, with whom and how their daily lives are maintained.
Restraining Order
Court orders that protect a person from physical violence from a family member or a person with whom they have lived or had a dating relationship.
Sole Legal Custody
One parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Sole Physical Custody
Children reside primarily with one parent and have visitation with the other parent.
Summary Dissolution
Uncontested termination of a marriage wherein both parties are in agreement with the divorce and all of the following conditions apply: 1) Parties have not been married for longer than five years 2) No children were born to the parties before or during the marriage, parties have no adopted children under 18 years of age and the wife is not knowingly now pregnant 3) Neither party owns any part of any land or buildings, community property is not worth more than $38,000.00, neither party has separate property worth more than $38,000.00 and community obligations are less than $6,000.00.
Supervised Visitation
Visitation limited to special situations where a third party, specified by the Court, is present. Supervised or monitored visitation may occur when there is a need to protect children because of substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, family violence or other serious problems or when children are getting to know a previously absent parent.
Period of time when the non-custodial parent has the children and is fully responsible for them.

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