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Glossary

GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS

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Access Parenting Time (once called Visitation)
A.R.S. Arizona Revised Statutes: Books containing the laws that the Arizona Legislature has enacted.
Acquit To find a criminal defendant not guilty.
Action A dispute taken to court to be settled. Same as "case," "suit" and "lawsuit" when used in the courtroom context.
Adjudicate To make a final decision; to give a judgment or a decree.
Administrative Process A quasi-judicial system created by statute or rule to determine legal rights.
Admissible Evidence that is properly introduced in a trial.
Adversary System Method used in the courts of the United States to settle legal disputes. Both parties in the case tell their story to the judge and/or jury for resolution.
Affiant Someone who makes and signs an affidavit.
Affidavit A written statement of fact, signed and sworn to in front of a notary or a person who has the right to administer an oath.
Affirm To uphold a decision made by a lower court.
Age of Majority Age at which the duty of support terminates. (Currently age 18 in Arizona unless the child is actually attending high school, a certified high school equivalency program, or is disabled.)
AHCCCS Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) A category of public assistance paid on behalf of children who are deprived of support by one or both of their parents due to disability, or continued absence (including desertion) from the home.
Alimony See Spousal Maintenance in this Glossary
Allegations Statements against one party which the other party is prepared to prove.
Alleged Father (Putative Father) A person who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock, but for whom paternity has not yet been established.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) A process to resolve a dispute in lieu of traditional litigation e.g. mediation, arbitration or settlement conferences.
Answer Written response in a civil case; in it the defendant admits or denies the allegations of the plaintiff’s complaint and states any defenses that apply.
Appeal A request made to a higher court to reverse or modify a decision made by a lower court.
Appearance By coming into court, a defendant agrees to abide by the jurisdiction of the court; gives to the court an address to which the court can mail notices of hearings and other court documents; and a document identifying someone who is representing another. An attorney files a Notice of Appearance, making it known to the court that she or he is representing a specific individual.
Appellant The person/party appealing the judgment or decision of a court.
Appellate Court A court having jurisdiction (authority) to hear appeals.
Appellee The party against whom the appeal is taken.
Applicant/Recipient (AR) One who applies for and receives AFDC, Medical Assistance or Food Stamp benefits or any other type of public assistance.
Arbitration Binding Voluntary Arbitration:  A process in which the disputing parties choose a neutral person to hear their dispute and resolve it by rendering a final and binding decision or award.  Arbitration is an adversarial, adjudicative process designed to resolve the specific issues submitted by the parties.  Arbitration differs significantly from litigation in that (1) it does not require conformity with the legal rules of evidence and procedure, (2) there is flexibility in timing and choice of decision makers, and (3) the proceeding is conducted in private rather than in a public forum.  Binding arbitration awards are usually enforceable by courts, absent defects in the arbitration procedure.

Mandatory Non-binding Arbitration:   Describes court-annexed arbitration programs.  Court-appointed arbitrators hear cases subject to jurisdictional limits set by each county.  The losing party has the right to a trial de novo (new trial) in the trial court.

Arbitrator An attorney selected to hear a case and settle the legal dispute without a formal trial.
Arizona's Tracking and Location Automated System. (ATLAS) Arizona's statewide automated system for IV-D child support cases.
Arraignment Court proceeding in which the defendant stands before the judge to answer criminal charges by entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Arrearage/Arrears An amount of money that is overdue; usually this refers to the amount of child support that has been ordered but has not been paid on time.
Arrearage/Arrears Judgment A written judicial determination of the amount of support past due for a specific period of time.
Assignment of Rights An eligibility requirement for TANF whereby the applicant/recipient must assign to the state all rights to support he or she may have in their own behalf or on behalf of a dependent child.
Assistant Judge See Judge in this Glossary.
Attachment The act of seizing a person or property under the authority of a judicial order so that the person or property is before the court, subject to its judgment.
Attorney-at-Law One who is admitted to the State Bar of Arizona and who may represent clients in legal proceedings. Also called lawyers or counsel.
 

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Bail Money or other form of security the judge requires to be held by the court to ensure that a criminal defendant, released while awaiting trial, will be in court for the trial. Bail is returned when the defendant returns for trial.
Bailiff Courtroom attendant responsible for keeping order in the courtroom and supervising the jury.
Bench The seat where a judge sits in court.
Biological Father The man who fathers a child by impregnating the mother.
Board of Supervisors Local governing body at the county level.
Brief Written statement explaining facts of a case and laws that apply.
Burden of Proof The obligation placed on one of the parties in a dispute to prove their allegations in order to obtain relief from the court.
 

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Caretaker Relative A person who receives TANF payments on behalf of a beneficiary incapable of managing the funds.
Case Lawsuit, suit or action being resolved through the court system.
Case Law Law composed of previous written decisions of appellate courts.
Case Number A number assigned by the court to identify your specific case. The case number in domestic relations is usually preceded by one or two letters such as: D, DO, or DR.
Central Registry An entity required by all reciprocating jurisdictions to receive, log and distribute interstate cases.
Certified Copy A copy of a paper which has been signed and certified as a true copy by the officer in whose custody the original is entrusted.
Chambers Private offices of a judge or justice.
Chief Justice Presiding justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Child Support An amount of money that a parent must pay to another parent to contribute to the living, medical and educational expenses of a child.
Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA) See: Division of Child Support Services (DCSS)
Child Support Guidelines Standards adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court to guide parents and the courts when determining child support obligations.
Child Support Order A written order from the court that states: which parent must pay child support; which parent will receive child support; the amount of child support payment; how often the payment must be made.
Child Support Worksheet A document, used to enter financial information and calculate the amount of child support according to the Child Support Guidelines.
Civil Action or Suit A non-criminal case concerning the claim of one individual or entity against another.
Civil Law Area of law that deals with disputes between individuals, not involving crimes.
Claim Legal and factual grounds for a court to grant relief.
Clearinghouse A central location that receives, disburses and monitors IV-D support payments.
Clerk of the Court An appointed or elected official who is responsible for keeping records and accounts for a court and managing routine affairs.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Rules implementing federal laws.
In IV-D, these rules are contained in 45 CFR Part 300-399.
Complaint Legal paper telling the court and the defendant what the plaintiff’s claims are. This document is filed with the court at the beginning of a case.
Conciliation Court A branch of the Superior Court to which a spouse may apply in an effort to preserve a marriage or from whom a parent may request assistance in settling disputes regarding children.
Conclusions of Law The decision made by the judge by applying the law to the facts of the case.
Constable An elected official whose primary duty is to deliver and return legal notices and documents as directed by a Justice of the Peace.
Contempt A willful disregard or disobedience of the court's order.
Contested Case An action in which the defendant opposes the relief sought by the plaintiff.
Continuance Postponement of a court hearing.
Contract An agreement that may be enforceable through a court action.
Conviction A decision by the judge or a verdict by the jury determining that a person charged with a criminal offense is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Counsel See Lawyer or Attorney at Law in this Glossary.
Counterclaim A claim asserted by a defendant against the plaintiff.
County Attorney Attorney elected in each county to prosecute criminal cases on behalf of the public and to represent the county in civil matters.
Court Administrator Person who assists the presiding judge in managing the court.
Court Commissioner Person with authority to do the job of a judge in certain types of cases.
Court of Record Courts in which a record is made of all proceedings.  Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts are not courts of record, but they sometimes do keep records of court proceedings.
Court Reporter A person who records courtroom proceedings in order to be able to produce a transcript of the proceeding.
Courtroom Clerk Person in charge of making and keeping the docket of court proceedings and other court records.
Crime An act forbidden by law and punishable by fine, probation, imprisonment or death.
Custodial Parent/Person (CP) The parent (or parents, in joint custody situations) designated by the court to make major decisions regarding a child's care.
Custody See Parental Rights and Responsibilities in this Glossary.

 

 

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Decree The court's final decision on a case brought before it.
Default A failure of the defendant to file the appropriate papers within the time allowed or to appear in court during a scheduled hearing.
Default Judgment Relief granted by a court when an opposing party fails to answer a complaint or appear for trial.
Defendant The person against whom a lawsuit is started; sometimes this person is called a respondent.
Delinquent Act An act committed by a juvenile that if committed by an adult would be a crime.
Denial An answer to a complaint in which the defendant denies the allegations made by the plaintiff.
Department of Economic Security (DES) The agency in Arizona responsible for overseeing the IV-D and public assistance programs and to coordinate their activities.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Federal agency which includes the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).
Dependency A relationship in which one depends on another for support in whole or in part.
Deponent Someone who gives a deposition.
Deposition Testimony taken orally or in writing outside of a courtroom by question and answer under oath. It may be read in court and may be admitted by the judge as evidence.
Discovery The procedures available to a party to a lawsuit to learn relevant facts which are known to other parties or witnesses, in order to enable the party to prepare for trial.
Dismiss To close out a case without granting the relief sought in the complaint; a case may be dismissed by the parties or by the court.
Disregard In TANF cases, the amount of child support, up to $50, actually paid by the obligor and disbursed to the aid recipient in addition to the monthly TANF grant. Termed "disregard" because it is not considered by IV-A to determine TANF eligibility.
Dissolution of Marriage The term used in Arizona Law for "divorce."
Division of Child Support Services(DCSS) The division of DES charged with the statewide administration and operation of IV-D child support programs.
DNA Testing A way to determine the parents of a child by testing the chromosomes of each parent and child through taking a blood sample.
Docket A written list containing brief notes of all the important acts done in court in each case. The name " docket" or " trial docket" is sometimes given to the list or calendar of cases set for trial or other hearings at a specified time and date.
Docket Number A number that is given to each case as it is filed in the court. This number should be listed on all papers that are filed with the court.
Domestic Relations Branch of the law that deals with families and children.
Duty of Support The legal obligations of each parent to support minor natural or adopted unemancipated child(ren). In Arizona this obligation continues past the age of majority (currently age 18) if the child is still attending high school or in a certified high school equivalency program, or when the child as minor was found to be disabled and the court has ordered the payments to continue.
 

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Emancipation A status of independence of children from their parents due to age or circumstance.
Evidence Testimony of a witness, an object or written documents submitted in court regarding the facts in a case.
Excess The remaining amount of a support payment forwarded to the TANF family in addition to the $50 disregard after the state has retained a portion to reimburse itself for the current month's TANF grant.  The excess plus the $50 disregard will not, however, exceed the amount of the current support set out in the court order.
Exhibit A document or object that is offered into evidence during a trial or hearing.
Ex Parte Latin phrase for relief that is sought (and may be granted) without notice to the opposing party.  Commonly used in obtaining an order of protection.
Execution A legal remedy used to enforce a judgment, by which a law enforcement officer may confiscate property of the debtor. Also refers to the process of serving a civil arrest warrant.
 

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Family Court A trial court that has jurisdiction over all family cases, including divorce, child support, parentage, domestic abuse and juvenile cases.
Family Law Commissioner A judicial officer appointed in the superior court to establish and enforce support orders in IV-D cases.
Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) A national system operated by OCSE for the purpose of searching federal government records to locate parents.
Felony A serious crime, punishable by imprisonment in a state penitentiary.  In some cases, the death penalty can be imposed.
Filing Fee Amount of money charged by the court when a case is started.
Findings or Findings of Fact Rulings by a court as to what facts are true.
Forcible Entry and Detainer A special proceeding for returning possession of lands, tenements or other real property to a person who has been wrongfully kept off the land or deprived of use of the land.  This is a common proceeding used in landlord/tenant disputes, also known as eviction.
Full Faith & Credit The constitutional principle which entitles a judgment of one state's court to recognition and enforcement in any other state's court.
 

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Garnishee The person upon whom a garnishment is served. (Verb: to institute garnishment proceedings.)
Garnishment A legal remedy whereby a debtor's property or money in the possession or under the control of a third person (garnishee) is withheld from the debtor and applied to the debt.
General Jurisdiction Court (Superior Court) Court that has authority to hear all legal actions not assigned exclusively to another court.
Genetic Testing A way to determine the parents of a child by testing the chromosomes of each parent and child through taking a blood sample.
Grand Jury A group of 12-16 citizens who usually serve a term of not more than 120 days to hear or investigate charges of criminal behavior.  TA grand jury indictment is a written accusation charging a defendant with commission of a crime.
Grantee Relative A relative who has physical or legal custody of and is receiving public assistance for another person's child(ren).
Guardian A person appointed by the court to manage the affairs of a child or incapacitated person. Note: A guardian does not have a duty of support to the child in his/her care.
Guardian Ad Litem A person appointed by the court to represent the interests of a minor child in a divorce or parentage case. Guardians ad litem are different from attorneys in that they make a recommendation to the court about what they think is best for the child. Attorneys must tell the court what their clients (including children) want even if it is not in their best interests.
 

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Hearing A proceeding scheduled by the court at a particular date and time that may include presentation of evidence by the parties.
Home Study A professional investigation of the living situation of each of the parents for the court's use in determining parental rights and responsibilities.  Also done to investigate persons seeking to adopt a child.
 

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Impeach A formal accusation by the Arizona House of Representatives that a public official committed misconduct in office.
Incorrigible Refers to a juvenile who is unmanageable by parents or guardians.  Incorrigible offenses include running away and truancy.
Indictment A formal, written accusation by a grand jury charging that a person or business committed a specific crime.
In Forma Pauperis Latin phrase referring to someone who does not have the financial ability to pay for all or part of the cost of litigation. A person may seek in forma pauperis status in order not to have to pay filing fees or the cost of serving papers on the other party. Sometimes this is abbreviated "IFP."
In Loco Parentis Latin phrase referring to a person who, although not the legal or biological parent of the child, has been treated as a parent by the child and established a meaningful parental relationship over a substantial period of time.
Initial Appearance The first appearance by a party in a criminal case.
Initiating Jurisdiction/State A county, district or state in which a legal action is initiated. Used most often in reference to interstate cases.
Injunction An order of the court directing a person not to do certain things. For example an injunction in a dissolution case orders the spouses not to sell any of the community property.
Insolvency Inability or lack of means to pay debts.
Intercept Seizure of a non-custodial parent's federal or state tax refund, or lottery winnings for application to a child support obligation.
Interest on Support Arrearage The annual rate of interest on support arrearages in Arizona is 10% is currently the law.
Interrogatories Written questions of one party, which are served on the other party, who must answer by written replies under oath.
Interstate A case which involves two or more states.
Intrastate A case which involves two or more courts within a state.
Irretrievably Broken The standard used in Arizona by the court to decide if a divorce should be granted. It means that there is no reasonable chance that the spouses will agree to stay married.
IV-A Title IV-A of the federal Social Security Act is that portion of the federal law covering the public assistance program.
IV-A Referral The notice (now automatically provided through computer interface) provided to IV-D by IV-A when an applicant/recipient is determined to be eligible for public assistance benefits.
IV-D "Four D" refers to the title in the federal Social Security Act under which the Office of Child Support is reimbursed for providing service to persons who receive public assistance or who otherwise apply for their services.
IV-D TANF Case A case managed by the IV-D agency in which public assistance benefits are being paid for the child(ren) involved. (Automatically referred to IV-D from IV-A when benefits paid.)
IV-D Agency The entity responsible to administer the State Plan under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (in Arizona, the Department of Economic Security).
IV-D Non-TANF Case or Non-Public Assistance (NPA) A case managed by the IV-D agency in which no public assistance benefits are being paid for the child/ren involved. (Application must be made in writing.)
IV-E Title IV-E of the federal Social Security Act which provides for foster care maintenance payments for children who are IV-A eligible.
 

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Judge Presiding Judge: The judge who is dealing with a given case on a given day.
Judge Pro Tempore A person assigned to perform the duties of a judge on a temporary basis.
Judgment The findings and order of the court, set forth in a formal written document signed by the judge.
Judicial Performance Review The process as required by the Arizona Constitution to periodically review the performance of judges appointed by the governor.
Jurisdiction The power or authority of the court to act. The court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter or geographic area of the proceeding and the person against whom relief is sought.
Jury Commissioner Court officer who ensures that potential jurors are available to serve when needed by the courts.
 

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Law Provisions which regulate the conduct of society, primarily generated by the legislative brand of government.
Lawyer A person licensed by the State to represent people in court and give legal advice.
Legal Father A man who is recognized by law as being a parent.
Lien A legal claim against another person's property as security for a debt.
Limited Jurisdiction Court A Court which may hear and decide limited types of cases, in Arizona, these are the justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts.
Litigant A generic term used to describe a party to a legal action. A litigant can be a plaintiff or a defendant.
Litigation A judicial contest which seeks a decision from the court.
Long-Arm Statute A statute permitting a state court to exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident.
 

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Magistrate See Judge in this Glossary.
Maintenance Supplement An amount of money added to a child support award in order to ensure that the child lives in the same living conditions, as the child would have if the child had been living with the other parent. This amount is technically granted to one of the parents, and can be permanent or temporary.
MAO Medical Assistance Only cases.
Mediation A process in which the disputing parties use a third party to assist them in reaching a settlement of the dispute.  The process is private, informal, and non-binding.   The mediator has no power to impose a settlement, but rather attempts to assist the disputants in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution to the dispute.
Memo in Opposition A memorandum in response to another written memorandum or written request to the court.
Memorandum A written document in support of a certain position.
Merit Selection A system for a judicial nomination commission to recommend candidates for judicial appointments to the governor.
Mini-trial A process in which each side presents its case to a neutral third party, usually one impartial advisor who has been selected by the litigants and their attorneys.   Although the process resembles a trial, the presentation is abbreviated.   Following the presentations, the parties' representatives meet, with or without the neutral third party, to negotiate a settlement.
Misdemeanor Offense less serious than a felon, punishable by a sentence other than being sent to prison.  (A.R.S. Section 13-105)
Modification Order An order of the court that alters, changes, extends, amends, limits, or reduces an earlier order of the court.
Modify To alter; to change; to extend; to amend; to limit; to reduce.
Motion A request to a court for an order granting any kind of relief.
 

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Nisi Period A period of time (usually 90 days) following a final divorce order during which neither party can marry again.
Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) The parent that has not been granted legal custody of the child(ren).
The parent who is not the primary caretaker of the child(ren).
Notary Public A person who is legally authorized to administer oaths and verify that someone has completed an affidavit under oath.
Notice of Appearance A paper filed in court notifying the court and the other parties that a party (or their lawyer) is participating in the case. See Appearance in this Glossary.
 

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Oath Swearing or affirming that a statement is true. If someone makes a statement under oath and knows it is false, that person may be subjected to prosecution for perjury. Written documents as well as spoken testimony may be made under oath.
Obligee Commonly refers to the person to whom monthly support is payable.
Obligor Commonly refers to the person ordered to pay support.
Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) The federal office established to oversee the administration of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
Offset The reduction of a support indebtedness. (In IV-D, refers to the application of federal or state tax refund monies to child support arrearage.)
Opinion Written statement issued to report the decision of an appellate court.
Order to Show Cause/Order to Appear A court order directing a person to appear in court and respond to a legal petition or complaint.
 

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Parent/Child Contact A court determination establishing the conditions under which a parent may be with his or her child. Also known as Parenting Time.
Parentage A determination that one person is the parent of a child and therefore is responsible for child support and may be entitled to parental rights and responsibilities and parent/child contact.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities (Used to be known as custody) Issues for court determination in a divorce or parentage action. Physical rights and responsibilities include where the child lives and who cares for the child; legal rights and responsibilities include the right to make decisions for the child, including granting permission for medical treatment for the child, and the right to have access to the child's school and medical records.
Parenting Plan A written document containing an agreement between parents indicating how a child will be raised and cared for after the parents separate or divorce. A written parenting plan is required whenever parents ask the court to order joint custody.
Parenting Time See Parent/Child Contact in this Glossary.  Once known as Visitation
Party A person who has appeared in court in regard to an action and whose rights are subject to the court's jurisdiction.
Pass-Through The amount of a collection, full or partial, which is paid to a custodial parent, including the $50 TANF disregard.
Paternity A determination that establishes a man as the legal father of a child. Paternity must be established before a father may be entitled to parental rights, if the parents were never married.
Payee The person who receives the child support payments for the child. See: Obligee
Payment History A printed statement of payments received by the court clerk or the support payment clearinghouse.
Payor The person ordered by the court to make child support payments. This is usually the parent who is not living with the child. See: Obligor
Petit (Trial) Jury The group of people selected to decide the facts and render a verdict in a civil or criminal trial.
Petition A formal written request filed with the Clerk of the Court requesting the court to take action.
Petition for Review An application asking an appellate court to examine a ruling or decision.
Plaintiff Someone who brings an action, such as a complaint.
Plea Response of a defendant to the criminal charges stated; the plea is usually "guilty" or "not guilty."
Plea Agreement or Plea Bargain A process between the accused and the prosecution to negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome of the case.
Pleading The process by which parties file things in court, including beginning a case, responding to issues in court, and counterclaims. Eventually, only one or a few issues remain which the parties disagree on, and these are the issues that the court decides upon.
Points of Law The legal questions that a case may raise.
Precinct Geographic subdivision of city, town or county, used to describe the jurisdiction of a Justice of the Peace or for election purposes.
Pre-Filing Conference A meeting intended to resolve issues in lieu of court action.
Preliminary Hearing Court proceeding used to determine whether there is enough evidence against a person charged with a felony to proceed to trial.
Presiding Judge See Judge in this Glossary.
Probable Cause Reasonable cause; there is more evidence for an argument than against it.
Probation A conditional suspension of the sentence given by a court in a criminal case.  If the terms of probation are violated, probation may be revoked and the sentence carried out.
Pro Bono Publico "For the public good." When a lawyer takes a legal case without being paid, and without expecting payment.
Pro Per (Pro Se) A Latin phrase meaning For oneself. A person appearing without benefit of an attorney, appearing for him/herself in court.
Prosecutor Attorney representing the citizens of a particular community or the state in a criminal case.  This may be the city attorney, county attorney or attorney general.
Pro Tem A person appointed as a judicial officer on a temporary basis.
Putative Father See: Alleged Father
 

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Reciprocity/ Reciprocal Denotes a relationship between states in which one extends the rights and privileges to citizens of another and vice versa.
Record on Appeal Those papers, transcripts and exhibits form the trial court that are forwarded to the appellate court for review.
Recording a Judgment The act of filing a certified copy of a judgment with a County Recorder in order to place a lien on any real property the judgment debtor may own in that county. Recording must be made in each county where the debtor may own property.
Referral Cases sent to the IV-D agency by various public assistance agencies to facilitate the collection of child and/or medical support so the aid recipient may become self-sufficient.
Registration of an Order A means of making an out-of-state child support order an Arizona order under procedures set forth in the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.
Registry A section of the Office of Child Support that accepts child support payments and pays them to the custodial parent.
Relief The redress or assistance awarded to a plaintiff or petitioner by the court.
Remand To send back; an appellate court may remand a case to the trial court for re-trial or other action.
Reopen Reopening of a case permits the introduction of new evidence and to permit a new trial.
Request to Find Request for written determination of facts by a judge after a trial.
Respondent The party who answers a complaint in a civil case or a party against whom an appeal is brought.
Responding Jurisdiction A county, district or state to which an interstate case is forwarded by the initiating jurisdiction for legal disposition.
Responding State See: Responding Jurisdiction
Rest A party is said to "rest" or "rest its case" when it has presented all of the evidence it intends to offer.
Retention The electoral process by which voters decide whether judges appointed by the governor will continue to serve another term in their current judicial capacity.
Return of Service A statement that a complaint or other document has been served on a party.
Reverse Decision of an appellate court to change all or part of the decision of a lower court.
Review and Adjustment In IV-D cases, a process to determine the appropriateness of the amount of support ordered to be paid and to change (modify) that amount to conform to state child support guidelines.
RURESA Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act:  a statute adopted by most states to assist in the establishment and enforcement of support obligations when parents reside in different states.
 

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Satisfaction of Judgment A document indicating a judgment has been paid or otherwise is no longer due, required to be filed with the clerk of each court where the judgment has been docketed and also recorded in the office of each county recorder where the judgment has been recorded.
Sentence Punishment set by the court or jury within the range of punishments authorized by statute.
Separation Agreement A document that may determine parental rights and responsibilities, parent/child contact and support without granting a divorce.
Service or Service of Process The formal delivery of a petition, notice, or other papers to a party in a legal action as prescribed by court rule.
Settlement An agreement that is reached by the opposing parties making it unnecessary for the court to resolve the controversy.
Sheriff's Fee The amount charged by the sheriff for serving a document to a party.
Small Claims Court A court that can decide on claims up to a certain, limited dollar amount. The proceedings are in the Justice of the Peace Court and are less formal than in other types of courts and parties usually represent themselves.
Small Claims Division Special division established within each justice of the Peace Court to legally resolve claims that do not exceed $2,500.
Spousal Maintenance Support for a spouse or former spouse ordered by the court; this arrangement may be temporary or permanent. In a IV-D case this can be enforced only when there is an accompanying child support order. Also known as Alimony.
State Parent Locator Service (SPLS) The system in the IV-D agency used to locate parents.
Status Conference A meeting at court, in which the court attempts to identify what issues are contested, what discovery needs to be completed, and what future hearings are needed. No evidence is presented and no witnesses are called at these meetings.
Statute Law enacted by the Legislature and published in the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Statute of Limitations Refers to the period of time within which a party must begin a legal action.
Stipulation An agreement between opposing parties on any matter relating to the proceeding or trial, such as an agreement on support, parental rights and responsibilities, parent/child contact and property division on either a temporary or final basis.
Subpoena An order to compel someone to come to a court at a certain date and time; there are penalties if that person doesn't come to court.
Suit See Action in this Glossary.
Summary Jury Trials A process whereby a jury is selected, and counsel for each side in the dispute present their best case before the jury and judge.  The jury is empanelled by the court, and at the conclusion of the presentations, the judge gives abbreviated instructions.  The jurors return with an advisory verdict intended to educate the parties about the jury's view of the case.  Counsel and parties are usually given an opportunity to discuss the basis for the advisory verdict with the jurors.  A settlement conference is then conducted by the judge.  If no settlement is reached, the parties may proceed to trial.
Summons A document directing a sheriff or other officer to notify the person named in the summons that a lawsuit has been started against him or her in court, and that he or she must go to court on the day listed in the summons and must file an answer to the complaint.
Superior Court Trial court with a courthouse in each county. This court has jurisdiction over all criminal cases and over all civil cases involving a claim of more than $200. This court usually hears only civil cases.
Supreme Court The court of final appeal.
 

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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) A category of public assistance paid on behalf of children who are deprived of support by one or both of their parents due to disability, or continued absence (including desertion) from the home.
Testimony Statements made by witnesses who have taken an oath or affirmed that they will tell the truth.
Transcript Official written, word-for-word record of court proceedings.
Trial Formal presentation of facts to a court or jury in order to reach a legal decision.
Trial De Novo A re-trial of a case.
True Bill An indictment by a grand jury.
 

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UCCJA Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. All 50 states have this law, which ensures that only one state can decide parental rights and responsibilities of a particular child.
UIFSA Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. Legislation designed to replace and improve upon URESA. It has been adopted in Arizona, effective from and after June 30, 1995.
Uncontested A case in which all of the issues are resolved and agreed upon by all parties; usually the parties will file a stipulation and proposed order with the court.
Unreimbursable TANF That amount of TANF monies expended for a family that is not recoverable because it exceeds the amount of support an obligor has been ordered by the court to pay.
Example: Total TANF monies expended, $3,800 less Total due under child support order $2,000, equals a difference of $1,800.
URESA Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act. All 50 have this law, which is designed to assist people to receive child support from non-custodial parents living in other states.
 

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Vacated A legal term meaning canceled or rescinded.
Venue The county or other geographical place in which a legal action is heard by the court.
Verdict Formal decision of a trial jury.
Visitation Now known as Parenting Time.  See Parent/Child Contact in this Glossary. 
Voluntary Acknowledgment A process by which parents can establish paternity without bringing a legal action.
 

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Wage Assignment/
Order of Assignment
A court order directing an employer or other payor to withhold money (e.g., wages, earnings, interest or trust funds, unemployment insurance benefits, etc.) owed to a support obligor for payment toward a child support obligation.
Wage Withholding A method of paying child support. Under court order, money is withheld from the wages of a non-custodial parent, sent to the Office of Child Support Registry and then sent to the custodial parent.
Waiver The intentional and voluntary relinquishment of a known legal right.
Witness Person who gives testimony regarding what he/she saw or heard.
Writ A document issued by a court which compels a sheriff or other officer to do something.