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Divorce Terminology in Court

Going through a divorce requires you to learn quite a bit in a relatively short period. There are a lot of terms thrown around that you might not always understand, so we’ve helped to make things a little easier. Below, you’ll find some divorce terminology that is used frequently in these cases, along with their basic definitions.

Alimony vs. Child Support

Alimony and child support are quite different from one another, but some people confuse the terms. Alimony, which is generally called spousal maintenance in Arizona, is money that one spouse pays to another to help them remain financially stable while they try to get their finances to support themselves. The length of time and the amount of alimony will vary from case to case. Sometimes, it will not be awarded at all. When it is granted, it tends to be temporary.
Child support is money that goes directly to helping pay for the necessities required for the children. It will always be granted to one of the parents and it is based on the results of a calculation.

Business Valuation

A business valuation will help to determine how much the business is worth for the purpose of the divorce proceedings. It will consider the historical financial information of the company, as well as the projected future revenues of the business and the company expenses. This is to help provide a fair market value for the business. The goal is to determine a value that is fair and accurate.

Community Property

Arizona is a community property state. The term community property refers to assets and debts that were acquired during the time the couple was married. They belong to both spouses equally and will be divided during the divorce. The division doesn’t need to be precisely equal, but the division does need to be fair. Most of the time, the division will be close to equal.

Contested Divorce

A divorce will be considered contested when the spouses do not agree on some or all of the aspects of the dissolution of their marriage. If the spouses agree on all but one piece of their divorce, it’s still considered contested. In cases like this, if an agreement can’t be reached, the case will go to trial. The judge will examine the evidence and determine how to rule on any of the aspects of the divorce that aren’t agreed upon already.
Contested divorces tend to take a long time. Most couples will try to avoid contested divorced because they do not want to go to court and have the divorce dragged out any longer than it should be.

Division of Assets

Division of assets simply refers to how the assets will be divided between the spouses during the divorce. Most of the time, community property will be split equally or near equally. Separate property will be kept by the individual who had it going into the marriage.

Hidden Assets

Straightforward divorce terminology, hidden assets are anything that might be concealed during a divorce as a means to protect it from the other spouse. You aren’t allowed to have hidden assets. Everything must be declared.
Some examples of hidden assets include cash, money in bank accounts, trusts, stocks, or property, for example. Some spouses might try to hide assets by transferring them to another person. This is not allowed and will likely be found out during the divorce.


Limited scope is a term that refers to hiring an attorney to handle only certain aspects of your case rather than the entire divorce from start to finish. For example, you might have them take care of any negotiations that take place. Maybe you will handle the paperwork and all of the other aspects of the divorce.
When you hire a limited-scope attorney, it can help you to save quite a bit of money, but it will mean some added work on your part.

No-Fault Divorce

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. This means that either spouse can file for a divorce without needing to provide a reason for the divorce or proving that the other party is at fault. If they no longer want to be with their spouse and aren’t getting along with them for one reason or another, they can file a divorce petition.

Separate Property

This is common divorce terminology for any property that a spouse has before they enter a marriage. It might be a vehicle, a home, a collection, etc. It also refers to the debt they have before marriage. Separate property will not be split during a divorce. What the couple had while coming into the marriage remains theirs.
Of course, there are some caveats to this. For example, when one party has a home and then gets married, the rules are different. If community funds are used to pay for the home, it’s then considered community property. Determining community and separate property can be difficult, so it’s often better to have an attorney help guide you.

Tangible vs. Intangible Assets

Tangible assets include money and anything that could be sold for cash. This might include vehicles, houses, jewelry, art, etc. Intangible assets could include things like franchises and intellectual property. They are worth something and are considered assets, but it can be difficult to place a cash value on them.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is the easiest type of divorce. This is when you and your spouse agree on all of the issues in the divorce and can come to an agreement. If you agree, you will just have to file the paperwork, write out the agreement, and wait for the paperwork to be filed and the divorce to be final. There will not be any need for a judge to hold a trial.
Of course, you probably have quite a few other questions about your divorce that go beyond just the divorce terminology listed here. Be sure to get in touch with the professionals at Modern Law. Our team can help you get the answers you need, provide you with a consultation, and help you with your case.
Resources: https://mymodernlaw.com/comprehensive-guide-child-support-arizona/ 
DIY Divorce Information: https://idoover.life/

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