Legal Lingo: Common Terms in Family Law

Lawyers are used to legal jargon but sometimes they forget that the average person does not make it a habit to browse through a law dictionary in the way we do. Below are the most common acronyms and terms that you will come across:


730 EVALUATION 

During custody disputes, the courts must evaluate the best custody situation for the child. Either social workers or court members examine conditions in the home, the child's mental health, and the relationship between the parent and child. The 730 evaluation is used when parents cannot decide on a custodial agreement and if signs of abuse, addiction or neglect are evident, which would impact the child's well-being. 


ATRO: AUTOMATIC TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER ATROs 

There are mutual restraining orders that remain effective until the court decides otherwise. People usually use them to prevent another parent from taking a child to another state, or changing property and health insurance information without the permission of the opposing party. 


CPS: CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES 

This is a government agency that protects children from abuse or neglect, and they become involved in court proceedings when there is evidence of some form of domestic abuse. 


DOD: DECLARATION OF DISCLOSURE 

During a divorce, both parties are required to disclose their assets in order to divide everything equally when it comes to child support or spousal support. The party that refuses to fill out those forms experiences serious consequences in the courts.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

Under CA law, domestic violence is violence that is experienced when a person who share relations under a domestic setting, causes harm (physical, mental, emotional) to another person and disrupts the peace. 


DVTRO: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER 

During cases of domestic violence, the abused party can obtain an order that prevents the abuser from going anywhere near the victim in any way, shape, or form, as long as the abused victim can prove that they are victims of such an environment. 


FCS: FAMILY COURT SERVICES 

When parents cannot agree on a custody plan, these services provide counseling and try to mediate the compromise for both parties to see the child. 


GARNISHMENT 

This is a court order that transfers money from a third party, such as wages before it reaches an employee's hands, in order to pay off a debt. This is usually considered when one party fails to pay child support.


IED: INCOME AND EXPENSE DECLARATION 

This form discloses income and expenses  information when one party requests a change for child/spousal support. 


MSC: MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE 

The two conflicting parties review their case before a trial in the presence of a court-appointed neutral party, who is usually referred to as the mediator. The intention is to avoid trial.  


PRO PER 

The Latin root is “in propria persona,” which literally means “in one’s own proper person.” This is the term associated with people who represented themselves during court proceedings.


UCCJEA: UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION ENFORCEMENT ACT 

This act assists parents who have full custody of a child to ask for child support fees from the parents who don't have custody and who live outside the state.