IMPORTANT TERMINOLOGY IN FAMILY LAW
Important terminology used in the California family law court system.
CHILD CUSTODY RELATED TERMSJOINT CUSTODY: The parents share joint physical custody and/or joint legal custody.
LEGAL CUSTODY: Ability to make decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the child.
PHYSICAL CUSTODY: Where/with which parent the child resides.
SOLE CUSTODY: One parent alone has full physical custody and/or legal custody.
PROPERTY RELATED TERMSCOMMUNITY PROPERTY ("CP"): Except as otherwise provided by statute, all real and personal property acquired by a married person during marriage while he or she is domiciled in California.
JOINT TENANCY: Held by two or more persons in equal shares; created by a document that expressly declares that title is held as joint tenants. There is a "Right of Survivorship," which means that upon death of a tenant, the property will pass in full (100%) by operation of law to the surviving tenant. Joint tenancy can be severed so that the Right of Survivorship is extinguished.
QUASI-COMMUNITY PROPERTY ("QCP"): Real or personal property, wherever situated, that was acquired: (a) By either spouse while domiciled outside California that would have been community property if the acquiring spouse had been domiciled in California at the time of acquisition; and (b) In exchange for real or personal property, wherever situated, that would have been community property if the acquiring spouse was domiciled in California at the time of acquisition.
SEPARATE PROPERTY ("SP"): The separate property of a married person includes the following: (a) Property owned by the person before marriage; (b) Property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (c) Rents, issues, and profits of the property. described in (a)-(b); and (d) Property acquired after separation with which there is no community interest.
TENANCY IN COMMON: Property owned that is not partnership, joint tenancy, or community property. The tenants may have equal or unequal shares.
MISC. TERMSDATE OF SEPARATION ("DOS"): Occurs only when parties have come to a parting of the way with no present intent of resuming their marriage & their conduct evidences a complete and final break in the marital relationship.
DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE ("DIVORCE"): A judgment dissolving marriage & restoring the parties to single status based on either: (a) irreconcilable differences that have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage; or (b) incurable insanity. These are the only two grounds allowed in California.
LEGAL SEPARATION: A judgment determining custody, support, and property rights that stops short of dissolving the marriage. A legal separation judgment is based on the same grounds as a dissolution of marriage judgment.
PETITIONER: The party who files the petition for dissolution or for paternity/parentage.
RESPONDENT: The party who is served with the petition for dissolution or for paternity/parentage and who is to respond to the petition.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT (aka, "ALIMONY"): During the pendency of a dissolution or legal separation proceeding, the Court may order one party to pay any amount that is necessary for the other party's support consistent with certain statutory requirements. The Court may also order a party to pay for the support of the other party after the dissolution is final and for a specified amount for a period of time that the Court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage and taking into consideration specific circumstances provided by statute.