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ABCs of JODs: A Guide to Family Law Acronyms


ABCs of JODsAs with any profession, law has its share of abbreviations and acronyms. Sometimes as law professionals, we see them so often it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what DM or EIC stands for. So we figured we would share a glossary of a few of the more commonly used family law acronyms.

ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution

This includes mediation, collaborative divorce and any other non-litigious means of resolving family law disputes.

Δ – Defendant

This one would not be used in official paperwork but a client could potentially come across it in an attorney’s handwritten notes or messages. The triangle is the Greek symbol for Delta or the letter D for Defendant.

DM – Divorce with Minor Children

During an initial divorce consultation one of the primary questions is “any minor children involved?” This is important because the DM is typically more involved in terms of custody, parenting time and support than a DO (see below.)

DO – Divorce Without Minor Children

This refers to a divorce that does not involve minor children.

ECE – Established Custodial Environment

This is one of the Judge’s considerations when determining child custody. According to Michigan State Legislature Section 722.27, “The custodial environment of a child is established if over an appreciable time the child naturally looks to the custodian in that environment for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort.”

EIC – Early Intervention Conference

According to the Oakland County Circuit Court website, “After a Complaint for Divorce is filed in Oakland County, the parties and their counsel are directed to appear at an Early Intervention Conference (EIC).  This mandatory meeting is held at the FOC Office before the assigned FOC Referee.  The referee conducts a review of the case status, provides the parties information about the divorce process and then directs them to the co-parenting class known as “SMILE” also held in the FOC Office immediately following the conclusion of the EIC.”

FOC – Friend of the Court

The Livingston County Circuit Court website describes the FOC responsibilities as, “To conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the Court regarding: 

  • Custody 
  • Parenting Time
  • Child Support, Medical Support and sometimes Spousal Support
  • In cooperation with the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU), to collect, record and distribute support payments as Ordered by the Court. 
  • To help the Court and parties enforce Orders for Custody, Parenting Time and Support.”

IME – Independent Medical Exam

“An IME is supposed to be an objective assessment of your medical condition, including what treatment you need, whether you have a permanent impairment and to what degree, and your ability to work in the future,” according to a NOLO article, “What is an Independent Medical Exam and How will it affect my workers’ compensation case?”

An IME could be recommended in divorce, custody or guardianship cases to determine someone’s ability to work or care for themselves or others.

JOD – Judgment of Divorce

This court order, signed by a judge, officially dissolves the marriage. The JOD determines the terms of the settlement including custody, division of assets and parenting time.

NOH – Notice of Hearing

This procedural term is used frequently in law practice to verify that involved parties are notified of upcoming court appearances.

OPC – Opposing Counsel

The attorney for the other party.

PT – Parenting Time

This refers to the child custody and visitation time defined by the JOD.

π = Plaintiff

As with the triangle for Defendant, the Greek pi symbol represents the P in Plaintiff.

POS – Proof of Service

When a party is served a subpoena, the courts require a proof of service to show that the person involved is aware of their responsibilities in the case.

QCD – Quitclaim Deed

A Quitclaim Deed is used to transfer ownership of property when no sale is involved. According to a article, “When do you need a quitclaim deed” by Michele Lerner ”Quitclaim deeds are most often used to transfer property within a family. For example, when an owner gets married and wants to add a spouse’s name to the title, or when the owners divorce and one spouse’s name is removed from the title. In other cases, a quitclaim can be used when parents transfer property to their children or when siblings transfer property to each other.”

QRDO – Qualified Domestic Relations Order

This document outlines the division of marital retirement or pension funds in a divorce.

SPC – Sole Physical Custody

Sole physical or legal custody is becoming increasingly rare in modern divorces. Most Southeastern Michigan judges tend to adhere to the belief that children are better off with the influence of both co-parents unless there are extreme circumstances involving abuse or untreated addiction.

UCSO – Uniform Child Support Order

Following the rules outlined in the Michigan Child Support Formula, the USCO is the official record of the court’s child support determinations.

USSO – Uniform Spousal Support Order

Unlike child support determinations, there is not a universal spousal support formula that applies to all cases. A judge takes into account the length of the marriage; health, employment and education of both parties; childcare needs; and many other factors when determining how much and how long alimony is paid.

This list of family law acronyms is by no means comprehensive. Confused about legal terminology? Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000. Our attorneys have years of experienced helping clients with divorce, family law, probate and estate planning in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston and Genesee counties. We handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Walled Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Waterford; Howell; South Lyon; New Hudson; Holly; Grand Blanc; Fenton and many more local communities.

Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates