Common Arizona Divorce Terms You Need to Know

Divorce is usually not easy for married couples. The process of going through a divorce can be complicated, and is often made more complex through the use of legal terms that are unfamiliar to those who aren’t lawyers. It is a good idea to learn some of the common Arizona divorce terms, for a better understanding of the information.

Dissolution of Marriage

Most people call it divorce, but in legal terms, it is known as dissolution of marriage. The judge orders a final dissolution of marriage at the end of the process. It is also sometimes called a divorce decree. It is the formal end of the marriage.


The petition is a name for the legal filing to begin a dissolution of marriage action. Once the petition is filed with the court, the case is assigned a docket number. This is also called the case number. It is the legal identification of the case.


Either party may file for divorce in Arizona. The person who files the petition first, is called the petitioner.


The person, who is served the divorce petition from the petitioner, is the respondent. These terms are used throughout the proceedings to describe each party.


When the parties go in front of the judge, it is called a hearing. There may be one, two, or several  hearings during the course of a divorce proceeding depending on the complexity and if the matter settles relatively quickly.

Preliminary Injunction

When the divorce begins, the court enters a preliminary injunction. This is an order to stop either party from making changes regarding property, assets, children, or anything else related to the divorce proceedings. The injunction remains in effect until the dissolution of marriage is finalized.

Parenting Time

Parenting time used to be known as visitation. Parenting time encompasses the time that each parent spends with their child.

Best Interests Attorney

A best interests attorney is a person appointed by the judge as a representative of a minor child during a divorce proceeding. A best interests attorney is appointed only in cases where the judge deems it necessary.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is money provided from one spouse to the other, during or after a divorce. It is also known as spousal support, or alimony. Spousal maintenance may be temporary or of indefinite duration.

Legal Decision Making

Legal decision making used to be known as legal custody. The legal decision making designation sets forth who is allowed to make important decisions for their children, including those about education, religion, and health care.

Divorce is often a difficult time in your life. It is best to seek assistance from an experienced divorce attorney before making any important decisions. Contact the legal team at Udall Shumway PLC to schedule a consultation today.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Common Arizona Divorce Terms, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.