Important Divorce Terminology You Should Know in California

Going through a divorce can be an overwhelming experience. It is important to have a good understanding of the different terms associated with the process. This blog will provide readers more insight into terminology related to divorce proceedings so they are better informed when filing for divorce.


A legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body. In order to get a divorce, one must file a petition in the appropriate jurisdiction.

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce vary from state to state but commonly include adultery, abandonment, and mental illness. However, California only has no-fault grounds such as irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Alimony/Spousal Support

Money that is paid periodically by one spouse to another for financial support during or after divorce proceedings taking into account the rights and obligations of each party under the law. Alimony may be ordered as temporary (during the proceedings) or permanent (after all issues are resolved). Alimony may also be rehabilitative (to help one spouse become financially independent) or reimbursement (for economic losses incurred due to supporting the other spouse during their education).

Property Division

Property division refers to dividing assets and debts between spouses in a divorce proceeding. This includes physical property such as real estate and personal property such as furniture, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. Debts are also divided proportionately according to each spouse’s contribution to their acquisition.

In some cases, equitable distribution is used instead of equal distribution when it comes to dividing debt and property. This means that each party gets what they put into the marriage rather than what they would receive if they were an unmarried couple splitting up their assets and debts fairly.


This refers to both physical custody (where children live) and legal custody (who has decision-making authority over matters concerning children). Depending on state laws, parents can agree on joint legal custody, where both parties share decision-making power, or sole legal custody, where only one parent has this power.

Physical custody may also be joint or sole, depending on what best serves the child’s interests.

Child Support

Money paid by one parent (or both) to cover expenses related to raising children, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, educational costs, etc., regardless of which parent has physical custody of them at any given time.

Final Judgement of Divorce

The court issues this document once all problems have been resolved in a divorce action, including alimony/spousal support payments, child support payments, division of assets/debts, and any other matters specified in an agreement reached between both parties before trial. The final judgment is binding on both parties involved in the case until it is modified by either court action or written agreement between them.

Creative Family Solutions, Cianci Law, PC Can Help Explain Difficult Terms

Filing for a divorce can be confusing due to its unfamiliar terminology. These terms can provide you with more insight into common terms related to filing for a divorce so you can feel more prepared when beginning this process.

Do you need help understanding divorce terms? Our team can assist you. Contact us at (916) 797-1575 to schedule an appointment for a consultation!

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