TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families):

Federal Program designed to provide assistance and work opportunities to needy families by granting federal funds and wide flexibility to states for the purpose of developing and implementing their own welfare programs.  TANF is the successor aid program established by the federal government in 1996 to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), also known as Welfare.  Refer to AFDC.

Temporary Restraining Order:

A pretrial order compelling a party to do something, or prohibiting certain actions or activities. Upon motion, courts may issue temporary orders at any time from the initial filing of a case to time of trial. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is usually issued to provide continued child/ spousal support before trial, preserve marital assets, such as restricting borrowing and spending, or to restrain one of the parties from returning to the marital home, or from harassing the other party.  Refer to Pendente Lite, Attachment, Motion to Vacate Marital Home.

Temporary Spousal Support:

A type of alimony that lasts for a short, specific period of time, usually not more than one (1) to two (2) years, and often awarded as an interlocutory order of continued spousal maintenance or financial child support to be accomplished while the case is pending.  Temporary support may be awarded when the persons involved are on almost equal ground but due to certain circumstances one person may need immediate financial assistance in order to restore their ability to set up a household and return to the workplace. Refer to Pendente Lite, Alimony, Lump Sum, Permanent or Rehabilitative Spousal Support.

Temporary Statute:

An act of the legislature which is limited in its duration at the time of enactment, but continues in force until the time of its limitation has expired, unless sooner repealed.  Refer to Statute, Public Statute, Private Statute, Declaratory Statute, Perpetual Statute, Affirmative Statute, Negative Statute, Penal Statute, or Classifications of Law.

Tenancy by the Entirety:

The manner in which jointly owned real estate is usually held by married couples. The surviving spouse, if the parties were married at time of death, becomes the sole owner of the entire estate.  Tenancy by the entirety can be terminated during their lifetime only by joint action of the parties.

Tender Years Presumption:

A legal perspective held by jurisdictions that mothers should be primarily favored for custody because young children (generally up to age 7) were believed to have a greater need of their mothers to help nurture them after a divorce considered the “tender years”.  This presumption has generally changed to the doctrine of “best interest of the child”.  Refer to Maternal Preference or Best Interest of the Child.

Termination of Parental Rights:

The complete and irrevocable severance of the legal relationship and all accompanying rights and responsibilities between a child and a parent or parents.  Termination of parental rights may be voluntary or involuntary.  The overwhelming majority of voluntary terminations involve birthparents who willingly relinquish their biological parental rights so that adoptive parents may formally and legally adopt the child.  An involuntary termination of parental rights will generally be ordered by the state in the event the child was neglected, abused or abandoned by the parent(s), or both parents suffer some mental or physical incapacity, making it impossible for them to provide normal parental care; especially if relatives may be identified who are willing and able to assume permanent custody of the child.

Tertium Non Datur:

A Latin term meaing “a third is not given" referring to the logical axiom that a claim is either true or false, with no third option.


Any statement made orally or in writing under oath.

Therapeutic Foster Home:

A temporary home, sometimes referred to as a "Treatment Foster Home" in which the foster parents have received specialized training to enable them to provide care for a wide variety of children and adolescents, usually those with significant emotional or behavioral problems.  Parents in therapeutic foster homes are more closely supervised and assisted than parents in regular foster homes.  Refer to Foster Home.


A licensed mental health professional (Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychologist or Social Worker) trained in the assessment and treatment of emotional, personality and/or relationship difficulties. The therapist may function to help a person move through the transitions of the divorce process; help individuals when they are facing emotions that may be overwhelming and interfering with day-to-day functioning; or assist person’s dealing with underlying core issues that are being triggered and surfacing due to the stress of dissolution and litigation processes.

Time Standards:

A generic expression referring to rules established by the court to accomplish or complete certain required actions such as filing deadlines, conducting discovery, scheduling pretrial conferences, trials, and other events occurring in the course of litigation.


The tracking and documentation of assets in a marriage from the present back to their original source.


The common expression for a legal proceeding conducting in a court of law including Trial by Jury, Bench Trial, Trial by the Record, Trial by Certificate, Trial by Inspection or Examination, Trial by Witnesses and others.  Refer to Trial by Jury or Judgment.

Trial by Jury:

Proceedings in open court after a complaint has been filed; the pleadings are finished; hearings, discovery and other processes are conducted; and jury selection has been accomplished to the presentation of evidence and arguments before a jury, concluding with a verdict or judgment. A trial by jury is conducted by selecting a jury in the manner prescribed by local statutes, who must be sworn to try the defendant (respondent) in the dispute according to law.  Evidence is then given by the party (plaintiff/complainant) on whom rests the burden of the proof to establish the matter of fact or law. Witnesses are called and questioned by counsel for the plaintiff, and after they have been examined (examination in chief), they are subject to a cross-examination by the defendant’s counsel as to every part of their testimony.  Having examined all witnesses, the party in support of the affirmative of the issue closes; and the other party is afforded the opportunity to call and question witnesses to explain or support differing parts of the issue which are in the same manner liable to a cross-examination. In the event the parties should dispute what should be given in evidence, the judge will conclusively decide the matter.  When presentation of the evidence has been closed, the counsel for the party who supports the affirmative of the issue(s) addresses the jury, by recapitulating the evidence and applying the law to the facts, and showing on what particular points the case should be considered and weighed. The defending counsel alternatively addresses the jury, expressing in like manner the facts and the law as applicable to the opposing side of the case; to which the other counsel has a right to reply.  It is then the duty of the judge to deliver his charge - summation of the evidence and explanation to the jury of the law applicable to the case.  The jurors retire to deliberate their verdict.  Upon reaching a conclusion, the jury is returned into court to deliver it in public. In case they cannot agree they may, in cases of necessity, be discharged.  Refer to Burden of Proof, Clear and Convincing Evidence, Preponderance of Evidence, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Voir Dire or Petit Jury.

Trial Court:

The county or city court (Circuit/Superior) where a lawsuit is filed and all litigation up to and including the trial is conducted; commonly referred to as the lower courts, to be distinguished from a court of appeals.  Refer to Circuit Court or Superior Court.

Trial Memoranda:

A legal document filed with the court setting forth each party's theory of the case indicating the preferred judgment, and advocating the reason(s) why the decision should be favorably rendered. Refer to Memorandum of Law.


The court, administrative agency, or quasi-judicial agency authorized to establish or modify custody, financial child support orders, determine parentage, or other matter of family law.  Refer to Court.


A transaction under which title to specific property (real or personal) is transferred to another party in agreement to hold or manage it for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary).  In consideration for same, the beneficiary usually receives interest, dividends or other payments on the trust assets for a set number of years.  Refer to Property or Beneficiary.

Trustee Process:

A court order issued to a neutral third party, for the purpose of responsibly safekeeping assets (real or personal property), effectively creating a trustee arrangement.  The action may be motioned by either party requesting a “writ of trustee process” in support of an affidavit of “irreparable harm” indicating necessary court intervention.  Refer to Assignment, Attachment, Trustee or Writ.