Reporting: Family law acronyms and slang for court reporters

By Michael Mattice

If you have been assigned to a family law or domestic relations or juvenile court, get ready for a whole new language! Lawyers and judges in these courts routinely use dozens of acronyms to save time in their conversations and space in their documents. Unfamiliarity with these “acronyzed” terms and other family law slang may, for the unprepared court reporter (hereinafter, “CSR”), cause stress that more than offsets the economy in keystrokes.

The problem is two-fold for CSRs. There is a wide variety of terms, and there are no uniform rules of pronunciation. Whereas some acronyms are spelled out, so that “CSR” for example is pronounced “see əss ar,” others are pronounced in ways that resemble a fourth grader’s first venture into reading a foreign language. Thus we have FLAR PL’s (“flar’ pəls”), UIFSA (“ew if ’ sə”), and QDRO ’s (“kwa’ droz”). (Pop quiz: How do you say FUSFSPA? Or UIEDVPOA?)

The following is a list of the acronyms most commonly used on the record in family law courts and a bit of slang. Pronunciations are offered when the acronym is not simply spelled out.

Regrettably for CSRs, this list only addresses some of the slang heard during the average family law calendar because of localized dialect in this legal field and also because practitioners tend to make nouns or verbs at will out of case names. We’ll hear, for example, of pensions that are either Verner-ized1 or Gillmore-ed,2 or both, and unmarried couples who Marvin-ize.3 When spousal support is being discussed, get ready for “Gavron4 orders,” and “Zlatnik, 5 anti-Vomacka6 language.”

Enjoy!

 

AB assembly bill

ADR alternative dispute resolution

AP account payable

AP alternate payee (of pension benefits)

AR account receivable

ATRO automatic temporary restraining order (or “ah’ tro¯ ” [pl. “ah’ tro¯ z”])

AVD alternate (or alternative) valuation date

B&P Business and Professions (Code)

BF biological father (or “bio-dad”)

BF boyfriend (sometimes also “bio-dad”)

BFP bona fi de purchaser

BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bifo bifurcation (“by’ fo¯ h”)

BK bankruptcy

BM birth mother (or “bio-mom”)

C child (sometimes, C1 and/or C2, etc.)

CASDI California state disability insurance (or “kaz’ di”)

CASIT California state income tax (or “kah’ sit”)

CCE child care expense

CCP Code of Civil Procedure

Cert certiorari (or “sərt”)

CMC case management conference

COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (or “ko¯ ’ brə”)

COLA cost of living allowance (or “ko¯ ’ lə”)

CP custodial parent (see also NCP, below)

CP community property

CPA certifi ed public accountant

CPS Child Protective Services

CRC California Rules of Court (usually mentioned by the judge)

CS child support

DCSS Department of Child Support Services

Depub depublished (or “di pub’d”)

Disso dissolution (of marriage)

DOB date of birth

Docs documents (“dahks”)

DOG date of grant (of stock options, distinguished from “you dog!”)

DOH date of hire

DOM date of marriage

DOR date of retirement

DOS or DOMS date of (marital) separation

DOS date of strike (of stock options, sometimes, “strike date”)

DP domestic partner (see also, RDP)

DRO domestic relations order (or “dro¯ ”; these usually relate to pensions)

DRTRA Domestic Relations Tax Reform Act (or “der’ trə”)

DV domestic violence

DVPA Domestic Violence Protection Act

DVRO domestic violence restraining order

EC evidence code (also usually mentioned by the judge)

EPO’s emergency protective orders, or ex parte orders

ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ə ris’ ə”)

ESOP employee stock option (or ownership) plan (“ee’ sop”)

Eval evaluation (usual usages: “vo¯ c eval”; “custody eval”)

FCCR family centered case resolution

FCCRP family centered case resolution plan

FCS Family Court Services

FDD final declaration of disclosure

FERS Federal Employees Retirement System

FICA Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“fy’ kə”)

FIFO first in, fi rst out (“fy’ fo¯ ”; see also LIFO, below)

FIT federal income tax

FLARPL family law attorneys’ real property lien (“fl ar’ pəl”)

FMV fair market value

FPKPA Federal Parental Kidnapping Protection Act

FRV fair rental value

FTB Franchise Tax Board

FUSFSPA Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (“fuf’ spə”)

GF girlfriend (sometimes aka “BM” or “bio-mom”)

GM grandmother

H husband (sometimes, H1 and/or H2 etc., sometimes formerly known as“BF”)

HEW health, education, and welfare

HH-MLA head of household, married living apart

I&E Income and Expense Declaration (sometimes “IED” or “FL-150”)

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ice”)

ICWA Indian Child Welfare Act (“ick’ wə”)

INS Immigration and Naturalization Service

IRA individual retirement account (“eye’ rə”)

IRC Internal Revenue Code

IRMO in re-marriage of (“er’ mo¯ ”)

IRS Internal Revenue Service

JT joint tenancy

K thousand (typical usage: “This house has $35K of equity in it.”)

LIFO last in, fi rst out (“ly’ fo¯ ”; see also FIFO, above)

LLC limited-liability company

LTA living together (or long term) arrangement

M million

M marriage

M mother

Mmmm This cake tastes good. Whose birthday is it?

MFJ married filing jointly

MFS married filing separately

MOD modification (“mahd”)

MSA Marital Settlement Agreement

MSC mandatory settlement conference

MSOL marital standard of living

NCP non-custodial parent

Nonpub non-published

NP natural parent

OT overtime

OPM Office of Personnel Management (federal)

OSC order to show cause

P&A Points and Authorities (sometimes “peez ‘n ayz”)

PAS parental alienation syndrome

PAS preliminary alcohol screening (“pahz”)

PC penal code

PDD preliminary declaration of disclosure

PERS Public Employee Retirement System (“purz”, sometimes “Cal-PERS”)

PI personal injury

PI private investigator

PKPA Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

POPS Parental Opportunity Program statement (or declaration; usually: “pahps dek”)

Prenup prenuptial

Psych psychological (“syke testing” or “do we need a psych?” or “you need a psych!”)

QCP quasi-community property

QDRO qualified domestic relations order (“kwa’ dro¯ ”)

QJSA qualified joint survivor annuity

QMCSO qualified medical child support order (“kwam’ sko¯ ”)

QPSA qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity (“kwip’ sə”)

QRI qualified residence interest

Quit Can we quit this quazy stuff and go get a beer?

RDP registered domestic partner

REA Retirement Equity Act (“ri’ ə”)

Recomp recomputation (“ree cahmp”)

Refi refinance (“ree fy”)

RFA request for admissions

RFO request for order

RO restraining order

RURESA Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (“rər ee’ sə”)

S & L savings and loan

S & M (Don’t ask)

SB Senate bill

SC status conference

SCRA Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act

S/E self-employed (compare “1099 earner” and “W-2 employee”)

SH shareholders

SL or SOL statute of limitations

SIDS sudden infant death syndrome (“sids”)

SLAPP strategic lawsuits against public participation (“slap,” sometimes “antislap”)

SLC sole legal custody

SM subject matter jurisdiction

SOD statement of decision

SP separate property

SPC sole physical custody

SS spousal support

SSI supplemental security income

Stip stipulation

STRS State Teachers Retirement System (“stərz”)

T trustee (sometimes “’tee”)

TCT trial court

TS time-share (either child time-sharing between parents, or a condo in Hawaii)

TANF Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“tan’ əf”)

TILA or TLA Truth in Lending Act (“tee’ lə”)

TIN taxpayer identification number

TMC trial management conference

TPR termination of parental rights

TRDP termination of registered domestic partnership

TRO temporary restraining order

TSC trial setting conference

TSOD tentative statement of decision

UCCJA Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

UCCJEA Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act

UFTA Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act

UIEDVPOA Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act

UIFSA Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“ew if’ sa”)

Unpub unpublished (or “ən pub’d”)

UPA Uniform Parentage Act

UPAA Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

URESA Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (“ər ee’ sə”)

USC United States Code (distinguished from “fight on, fight on, for USC!”)

USCA United States Code, Annotated

USSCT United States Supreme Court (sometimes “SCOTUS” or “sko¯ ’ təs”)

VAWA Violence Against Women Act (“va’ wə”)

VTC vocational training counselor

W wife (sometimes, W1 and/or W2 etc., sometimes formerly known as “GF”)

W-2 IRS form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement (tax records for “W-2 employees”)

W&I Welfare and Institutions (Code, sometimes “WIC”)

WD withdrawal

WCAB Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board

WHA withholding allowance

WIP work in progress

1. Verner v. Verner (1978) 77 Cal.App.3d 718 [143 Cal.Rptr. 826]

2. In re Marriage of Gillmore (1981) 29 Cal.3d 418 [174 Cal.Rptr. 493; 629 P.2d 1]

3. Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660 [134 Cal.Rptr. 815; 557 P.2d 106]

4. In re Marriage of Gavron (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 705 [250 Cal.Rptr. 148]

5. In re Marriage of Zlatnik (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 1284 [243 Cal.Rptr. 454]

6. In re Marriage of Vomacka (1984) 36 Cal.3d 459, 204 Cal.Rptr. 568, 683 P.2d 248

 

Please note: A few of these entries are unique to California, e.g. CASIT – California State Income Tax (or “ka’ sit”). However, most are heard throughout the United States. Also, lawyers and judges in other states have used analogous acronization techniques, e.g., Massachusetts State Income Tax is known as “MASIT” (“ma’ sit”).

 

The Hon. Michael Mattice has been a California Superior Court judge since 2003, and has had supervising family law, all-purpose felony, all-purpose civil, and appellate division assignments.