Legal Terms

                               



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-A-

Abandonment- n. the act of intentionally and permanently giving up, surrenderi...        
Action- n. any lawsuit relating to civil matters and not criminal prosecu...        
Addendum- n. an addition to a completed written document. Most commonly thi...        
Adoption- n. the taking of a child into one's family, creating a parent to ...        
Adultery- n. consensual sexual relations when one of the participants is le...        
Affidavit of Service- n. written confirmation taken under oath by a process server ...        
Alias Summons- n. a document issued by the court at the time a lawsuit is filed,...        
Alimony- n. support paid by one ex-spouse to the other as ordered by a cou...        
Appeal- v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decision of a trial co...        
Attachment- n. the seizing of money or property prior to getting a judgment i...        
Attorney- n. 1) an agent or someone authorized to act for another. 2) a per...        

-B-

Burden of Proof- n. the requirement that the plaintiff (the party bringing a civil...

-C-

Caption- n. the first section of any written legal pleading (papers) to be...
Cause of Action- n. the basis of a lawsuit founded on legal grounds and alleged fa...
Child Support- n. court-ordered funds to be paid by one parent to the custodial ...        
Clerk- n. 1) an official or employee who handles the business of a court...        
Collusion- n. where two persons (or business entities through their officers...        
Common Law Marriage- n. an agreement between a man and woman to live together as husba...        
Community Property- n. property and profits received by a husband and wife during the...        
Complainant- n. a person or entity who begins a lawsuit by filing a complaint ...        
Complaint- n. the first document filed with the court (actually with the Cou...        
Contempt- n. there are essentially two types of contempt: a) being rude, di...
Corroborate- v. to confirm and sometimes add substantiating (reinforcing) test...        
Counterclaim- n. a retaliatory claim by a defendant against a plaintiff in a la...        
Custody- Joint- n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (often upon agreem...

-D-

Decision Making- n. judgment, decree or determination of findings of fact and/or o...        
Default Judgment- n. if a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to a complaint in...        
Defendant- n. 1) the party sued in a civil lawsuit or the party charged with...
Deposition- n. the taking and recording of testimony of a witness under oath ...        
Discovery- n. the entire efforts of a party to a lawsuit and his/her/its att...
Dissolution- n. modern, gentler sounding, term for divorce, officially used in...        
Divorce- 1) n. the termination of a marriage by legal action, requiring a ...        
Domestic Violence- n. the continuing crime and problem of the physical beating of a ...        

-E-

Enjoin- v. for a court to order that someone either do a specific act, ce...        
Ex Parte- (ex par-tay, but popularly, ex party) adj. Latin meaning "for one...        

-F-

Fiduciary- 1) n. from the Latin fiducia, meaning "trust," a person (or a bus...        
Forensic- 1) adj. from Latin forensis for "belonging to the forum," ancient...        

-G-


Guardian ad Litem- n. a person appointed by the court only to take legal action on b...        

-H-

Hearsay- n. 1) second-hand evidence in which the witness is not telling wh...        
Home State- the state in which a child lives with the parent, or an adult acting as a parent, for at least six consecutive months preceeding the the filing of the petition or pleading for support.

-I-

Income- n. money, goods or other economic benefit received. Under income ...        
Innocent Spouse Rules- a tax relief built into the tax code, that allows a spouse to not pay their spouse's taxes if reported incorrectly.
In Re- prep. short for "in regard to" or concerning. Often "in re" is fo...
Irreconcilable Differences- n. the usual basis for granting a divorce (dissolution) in no-fau...        

-J-

Joint Legal Custody- n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (often upon agreem...        
Judgment of Divorce- a formal written document stating the divorce.
Jurisdiction- n. the authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on...

-L-

Law Guardian- law guardians serve as the child's advocate and are appointed by the Court in custody and visitation disputes.
Legal Separation- n. a court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and oblig...        

-M-

Marital Property- a legal distinction of a married individuals assets.
Master- n. 1) employer, in the area of law known as "master and servant,"...        
Mediation- n. the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participa...
Motion- n. a formal request made to a judge for an order or judgment. Mot...    

-N-
    
Non-Custodial Parent- a parent who does not have legal/physical custody of their child.
No-Fault Divorce- a divorce in which neither spouse needs to have proof of "fault."
Note of Issue- court's clerk enters a date in the courts calendar for a trial.

-O-
Obligation- n. a legal duty to pay or do something.        
Obligee- (ah-bluh-jee) n. the person or entity to whom an obligation is ow...        
Obligor- (ah-bluh-gore) n. the person or entity who owes an obligation to ...        
Offset- 1) n. also called a "setoff," the deduction by a debtor from a cl...        
Order- 1) n. every direction or mandate of a judge or a court which is n...        

-P-


Party- n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or other legal proceed...        
Payee- n. the one named on a check or promissory note to receive payment...        
Payor- (payer) n. the party who must make payment on a promissory note.
Pendente Lite- (pen-den-tay lee-tay) adj. Latin for awaiting the litigation (law...        
Petition- 1) n. a formal written request to a court for an order of the cou...
Petitioner- n. one who signs and/or files a petition.        
Plaintiff- n. the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with t...
Premarital Agreement- a contract between two persons who wish to marry.
Prenuptial Agreement- n. also called an antenuptial agreement, a written contract betwe...        
Proceeding- n. any legal filing, hearing, trial and/or judgment in the ongoin...        
Pro Se- (proh say) prep. Latin for "for himself." A party to a lawsuit wh...        

-Q-

Qualified Domestic Relations Order- a court order that allows pension plans or retirement benefits to be used as alimony or child support.

-R-

Respondent- n. 1) the party who is required to answer a petition for a court ...
Restraining Order- n. a temporary order of a court to keep conditions as they are (l...

-S-

Separate Property- n. in community property states (California, Texas, Arizona, Idah...
Separation- n. married persons living apart, either informally by one leaving...
Separation Agreement- n. an agreement between two married people who have agreed to liv...        
Service- n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contract or as an em...        
Spousal Support- n. payment for support of an ex-spouse (or a spouse while a divor...        
Statute of Limitations- n. a law which sets the maximum period which one can wait before ...        
Stipulation- n. an agreement, usually on a procedural matter, between the atto...        
Subpoena- n. the original spelling of subpena, still commonly used.        
Supreme Court- n. 1) the highest court in the United States, which has the ultim...        

-T-

Third Party- n. a person who is not a party to a contract or a transaction, bu...  

-U-      

Uncontested Divorce- where both spouses agree on all issues regarding the divorce.

-V-
Venue- n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for trial of a case....

-W-
Waiver- n. the intentional and voluntary giving up of something, such as ...        
 

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