Important Divorce Terms to Know

Going through a divorce is often difficult, especially when you don’t understand the process. Divorce laws have their own set of vocabulary words all which can make understanding the procedure much harder. There are some important divorce terms to know. These words will help you quickly decipher some of the confusing details of your divorce.

Equitable Distribution

In Arizona, divorcing couples are required to divide their property equitably. Equitable distribution means that the assets are divided in a way that gives both people approximately the same value absent good cause to enter into a different division.

Dissolution of Marriage

This is the legal term for divorce in Arizona. It is used interchangeably with the word divorce. However, “dissolution of marriage” is the word that you will see on legal documents and communication.

Community Property

Property that belongs to both parties is known as community property. It includes all types of assets such as houses, vehicles, furniture, and money, acquired during your marriage. Community property excludes items that you owned prior to marriage, gifts, and inheritances. Debts that are incurred during the marriage are also referred to as “community debt/obligations” or “community property debt/obligations.”

Parenting Time

Parenting time, formerly known as visitation, is time parents spend with their child after a divorce. Parenting time schedules vary widely.

Legal Decision-Making

Legal decision-making used to be called legal custody. Most often, parents are both allowed to make decisions for their children after a divorce which is called “joint legal decision-making” authority.  When only one parent is allowed to make decisions, it is called “sole legal decision-making” authority.


QDRO is the acronym for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is a court order that provides details regarding how an employee retirement plan is to be dispersed. A spouse may be entitled to a portion of the payout if it was accumulated during the marriage. The QDRO is entered by the Court and sent to the retirement plan administrator to effectuate.

Temporary Order

A temporary order is provided by the court to provide requirements that must be fulfilled while the divorce is in progress. For example, a temporary order could require one spouse to make child or spousal support payments to the other party. Temporary orders are also used to  establish a parenting time schedule or interim use of a residence or vehicle.

Divorce can be complicated. It is often advisable to get legal guidance from a reputable divorce attorney to assist you throughout the process. Call 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 Important Divorce Terms, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact 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.