Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. IX)
Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. IX)

Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. IX)

Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. IX)Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. IX)

When you have a legal question, it is extremely important that you have an attorney by your side who has the legal and practical experience to answer it. At Nelson Law Group PC, we believe in educating our clients, which is why we added a weekly blog to break down even the most complex and intimidating family law topics into bite-size pieces that are easy to understand.

Below is Vol. IX of our common family law terms list. While not a complete list, what we hope is that some of these words and phrases will become less foreign to you when going through a divorce, child-custody battle, or modification suit.


A request to modify terms of an original court order, often because of some type of change in the family dynamic. Examples of modification suits can be during custody, visitation, or support agreements. Any changes must be in the best interest of the child.

Material or substantial change

Changes to the family dynamic that are significant enough that they could directly impact a child’s best interest if a modification to an original court order is not completed. Examples can include, but are not limited to, a change in a child’s needs, guardian scheduling conflicts due to a new job or loss of job, or a change in residence.

3-year modification rule

A modification suit can be approved without having to prove a change in the family dynamic so long as the request is made within three years of the original order being rendered or last modified and the monthly child-support payments don’t differ by more than 20 percent or $100 from the original order.

Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction

Also known as CEJ. Refers to the exclusive right a court has to continue overseeing and acting on a final custody order if any modification requests are made in the future. Only a court with CEJ can modify an existing order.

Temporary Possession Orders

When a guardian is offered a change in the original terms of possession for a specified period of time. This can come into play when a parent is away on military duty and misses out on previous periods of possession due to that obligation.


A spouse or party responsible for paying the former spouse (child-support payments.)


A spouse or party who makes a motion (official request) to a court.

Contempt of Court

This is when you disobey a court. A person can be held in direct contempt by disobeying a judge in his presence, or indirect contempt by violating a court order.


Also known as being in arrears. When you owe unpaid or overdue payments to a court or former spouse (child support).

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

An organization that provides a variety of protective services for abused children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Multiple child-support orders

When two or more child-support orders exist at the same time. (see controlling order definition).

Controlling order

Multiple child-support orders cannot be in effect at the same time. When they do exist, courts must choose which order is the controlling order based on a variety of factors, including CEJ and where the child lives.

Home state

Refers to the state a child was born in and resides.

Foreign state

Refers to the state a child may have lived in for an extended period of time but is not the state where the court that rendered an order has jurisdiction.


A person who is involved in a lawsuit.

Judicial writ of withholding

When someone is in arrears on their child-support payment, a portion or all of that person’s wages can be withheld until the situation is resolved.

Child-support lien

Another form of recourse for a court that is dealing with someone who is  in arrears on their child-support payments. If payments aren’t recovered, a lien can be placed on that person”s home.

Subject-matter jurisdiction

A court must have authority over the parties involved and the issue that is in dispute before it can adjudicate a dispute.

Child’s preference

When a child determines which parent he or she wants to live with.

Parental alienation

When a party in a child-custody case directly attempts to interfere with the other spouse’s ability to communicate with their child. They can do this by either minimizing or thwarting completely the relationship.

Here are individual links to our previous eight terms lists: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5, Vol. 6Vol. 7, Vol. 8. Before filing your case, give us a call. Our friendly staff is here to help you. For more information about Brett A Nelson click here.

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Source: Nelson Law Group