Latin for "that you take” generally exercised as a civil arrest warrant and used in conjunction with several writs and processes ordering a law enforcement officer to take a person (defendant) into custody and deliver them to court in the event they refuse to appear in court.
A civil arrest warrant authorizing a law enforcement officer to physically produce a person in court to respond to a specific case or claim.
CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act):
A Federal funding program to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities, and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for demonstration programs and projects. Additionally, CAPTA identifies the Federal role in supporting research, evaluation, technical assistance, and data collection activities; establishes the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect; and mandates the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. CAPTA also sets forth a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect.
The heading of a plea, motion or other filing showing the names of the plaintiff and defendant, the name of he court, the court term and an identifying court number (case, docket, etc.). Refer to Pleading.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)
In the context of legal matters, generally refers to the oversight of the litigation and schedule of proceedings encompassing such events as the filing of a complaint, making an answer, discovery processes (interrogatories, subpoenae, depostions, etc.), assignment of a judge, and motions that occur before a trial is held or a decision is rendered.
Cause of Action:
A claim founded on legal grounds that justifies a legal right to sue. The basis of a lawsuit must constitute and prove all the elements of law required by statute, including a connection between the alleged act(s) of the defendant and damages suffered by the plaintiff. Refer to Lawsuit or Litigation.
CEJ (Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction):
The doctrine that only one support order should be effective and enforceable between the same parties at any one time and that when a particular court has acquired jurisdiction to determine child support and custody it retains authority to amend and modify its orders. Refer to UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act).
In accordance with the Hague Convention each participating country must designate a Central Authority to handle international child abduction cases. The Central Authority for the United States is the Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues. Refer to Hague Convention.
A sworn document describing facts of a particular issue, similar to an affidavit, generally filed with a Notice of Motion or in reply to a Notice of Motion brought by the opposing party.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst:
Accountants, investment advisors or financial planners that have receive specialized training and governing board endorsement of their qualification’s to help clients involved in a divorce proceeding. These professionals develop a fair and equitable financial settlement by factoring all assets, debts, income and expenses (health benefits, retirement plans, investments, home, stock options, spousal maintenance, financial child support, tax implications, etc.) for approval by the court.
Cestui Que Trust:
A French term meaning "the one who trusts" or the person who will benefit from the trust and will receive payments or a future distribution from the trust's assets, more commonly called a beneficiary. Refer to Beneficiary.
Charge to Jury:
An address delivered by the judge to the jury at the close of a trial instructing the jury on which principles of law they are to apply in reaching a verdict.
The technical term for the illegal removal of a child without parental consent. The most common form of abduction is committed by a non-custodial parent from the custodial parent's home. Refer to Abduction.
Child Abuse and Neglect:
A condition or situation when a person, usually an adult, purposefully harms a child. Child abuse encompasses physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, Shaken Baby Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, etc. By statute, each state requires the mandatory reporting of child abuse or maltreatment to an office of child protective services or other similarly sanctioned agency of the state, although some states may exempt the clergy from reporting statements made in confidence. In accordance with Federal legislation, at a minimum child abuse and neglect constitute any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm. Refer to Failure to Thrive.
A licensed therapist with specific education and training in the expected behaviors, stages, challenges and tasks of the development of a child. They work with the child (ren) to address specific emotional and practical day-to-day needs as they relate to the divorce process. A Child Representative may also assist in designing a parenting plan that specifically address the defined needs of the child(ren) as they endure the restructuring of the family.
Child Support Enforcement:
A Federal program authorized under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. It functions in all states and territories of the United States, working in partnership with state and local law enforcement and social services agencies, and family/domestic relations courts to determine parentage, establish and enforce financial support orders, and collect court-ordered financial child support payments. Refer to (UIFSA) Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
Child Support Guidelines:
An adopted set of rules and calculations, which may vary from state to state, used by the court to consider and establish a minimum periodic child support payment amount usually based on a “Cost Shares” formula which considers the income of both parents.
Child Support Payment:
A court-ordered periodic payment (usually bi-weekly or monthly) by one parent to the custodial parent of the minor child(ren) following a judgment of divorce (dissolution), legal separation or other court or administrative determination of parental financial responsibility. Usually the amount of support is based on a Child Support Guideline adopted by each state. Financial child support and access (visitation) are legally independent obligations which generally disallow nonpayment of child support for denied access, or denied access for nonpayment of child support. Refer to Child Support Guidelines or Access.
A social term used to express a compilation of Federal acts, state statutes, legal principles, social advocacy, and international agreements protecting the interests, privileges and entitlements of children and parents; sometimes referred to as a child’s right to both parents. Dependent children are not afforded individual rights guaranteed under due process until emancipated, but instead rely upon a parent, guardian or other legal entity to protect their best interests. Refer to Civil Rights, Parental Rights,
A state court (sometimes referred to as a trial court) authorized to hold sessions at several different places, generally divided into judicial districts (usually counties), and sanctioned to decide the facts and law in a case occurring within that jurisdiction; except when exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction is conferred upon other courts. Refer to Court.
A reference to the legal source of authority which has been adopted by legislative or common law practices (Constitution, statutes/codes, federal/state court cases, etc.); or to an administrative reference contained in the appendix or transcript of a case. Refer to Precedent or Statute.
A general reference to the collection of statutes, laws and administrative rules which deal with business and negligence lawsuits and practices.
An unlawful event when a person (contemnor) willfully disobeys a court order. Civil Contempt is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the court and evidence must be presented to prove the claim. The theory behind imposing a finding of civil contempt is to coerce the contemnor into comply with the court order, not to punish for disagreement. In family law, civil contempt is generally used as a method of enforcing alimony (spousal maintenance), financial child support, custody and access orders which have been violated. Refer to Contempt of Court, Criminal Contempt, Contemnor, Knowingly or Willful.
A general term used to describe non-criminal law. More appropriately, civil law references a body of laws and legal concepts which come down from old Roman laws established by Emperor Justinian. In the United States, only Louisiana has a legal structure based on civil law, relying on the French Napoleonic Code, while the remaining legal systems are based on the framework of English common law.
Collectively refer to the rights or freedoms guaranteed to the people by the First Amendment to the Constitution, by Common Law, or legislation, allowing the individual to be free to speak, think, assemble, organize, worship, or petition without government (or even private) interference or restraints. These liberties are protective in nature, while civil rights form a broader concept and include positive elements such as the right to use facilities, the right to an equal education, or the right to participate in government. Refer to Civil Rights.
A collection of rights assured in the United States by the Bill of Rights, the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution which most fundamentally guarantee the right to due process and equal treatment under the law. Examples of civil rights include freedom of speech, press, assembly, the right to vote, freedom from involuntary servitude, and the right to equality in public places. Federal acts and state statutes have also been enacted to support civil rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. More recent legislation includes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Refer to Human Rights.
Sometimes called a domestic or registered partnership, civil union is a term generally used to recognize the different kinds of relationships shared between persons who choose not to enter into the legal institution of marriage but prefer a long-term relationship more similar to a common-law marriage; or couples of the same sex with the benefits of marriage. Refer to Cohabitation.
Clear and Convincing Evidence:
The level of proof sometimes required in a civil case for the plaintiff to prevail. It means the Court must be persuaded by the evidence that it is highly probable that the claim or affirmative defense is true. The standard of “clear and convincing evidence” holds a more stringent requirement of proof than establishment by the “preponderance of the evidence”, but less than is required “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Refer to Burden of Proof, Preponderance of Evidence, Beyond Reasonable Doubt.
Classifications of Law:
The establishment, interpretation, and enforcement of law into three primary organizational classifications:
1) Substantive vs. Procedural Law, where substantive law creates, defines and regulates legal rights and obligations while procedural law defines the rules that are used to enforce substantive law.
2) Common Law vs. Statutory Law, where common law is defined by the court, and statutory law is passed by state or federal legislation.
3) Criminal Law vs. Civil Law, where criminal law is action brought by society against a private party(s), while civil law is litigation between private parties only.
Clerk of the Court:
An officer appointed by the court system to assist the chief administrative judge in providing clerical oversight of files organization and records maintenance, management of cases and calendars, administers the oath to jurors, and other administrative functions.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act):
Federal legislation that guarantees to all persons previously insured by medical benefits, the right to continue coverage for a fixed period of time, in the event of changes in employment or marital status.
A written amendment to a will used to explain, modify, supplement, delete, qualify, alter, restrain or revoke provisions in the existing will. A codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed according to the laws of the state in which it is signed, and make direct reference to the will it amends. Refer to Probate or Will.
The circumstance of unmarried persons living together in an emotional, physical, and intellectually intimate relationship which includes a common living place, and existing without the benefit of legal, cultural, or religious sanction considered under marriage or civil union. Refer to Marriage or Civil Union.
COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment):
An adjustment in wages (often annually) to offset a change (usually a loss) in purchasing power, as measured by the Consumer Price Index; or to adjust future benefits such as those from some pension plans or disability insurance on an annual basis; in the attempt to keep pace with inflation experienced by the consumer.
An alternative approach to adversarial divorce practices in which both spouses and their attorneys commit to negotiating and resolving issues without litigation. It is a voluntary process with prearranged ground rules designed to create a joint agreement for a final judgment of divorce by the court. Refer to Alternative Dispute Resolution.
A process of informal alternative dispute resolution without utilization of the courts to litigate a case, particularly as it applies to divorce. In the event the parties fail to reach a collaborative agreement, counsel must be dismissed and new attorneys retained to litigate the issues. Refer to Collaborative Divorce.
Commencement of Action:
A term used to designate the official beginning of a case, determined as the time of filing and acceptance of a complaint for divorce with the court.
A body of law, also known as case law, where decisions or precedent were issued by courts (or quasi-judicial tribunals within government agencies) that define, interpret and determine the distinctions rules and regulations not specifically covered in statutes. Also refers to English Common Law which descends from the English legal system of continental or code jurisdictions of Europe heavily influenced by ancient Roman Law.
Common Law Marriage:
A judicially recognized relationship of mutual consent, usually based on cohabitation after a specific continuous period of time, without application for a license, issuance of a certificate, or other formalities associated with traditional marriage, representing or intending to represent themselves as a married couple. Not all states recognize common law marriages.
A method for determining and distributing the ownership of marital property acquired, and the responsibility and obligation for debts incurred during marriage in the instance of a divorce or death of a spouse. In the nine states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin) that support community property principles, all earnings during marriage and all property acquired with those earnings are considered community property, with certain exceptions (inheritances, specific gifts to one of the spouses, and property and profits clearly traceable to property owned before marriage), and entitled to be shared equally; regardless of who provided the money to purchase the asset or whose name the asset is held in. Refer to Marital Property, Equitable Distribution or Separate Property.
A person's ability to observe, recall and recount under oath issues pertaining to the issues of a legal matter or occurrence. Refer to Incompetent or Incapacitated.
The legal designation of the person who initiates (files) a suit for litigation, also known as the plaintiff. Refer to Plaintiff, Defendant or Respondent.
Complaint for Divorce:
Sometimes referred to as a Bill of Complaint, it is the legal paper that initiates the divorce proceeding by identifying the parties; declaring the grounds for divorce; stating all claims against the defendant; and requesting the court to grant a divorce, grant custody, divide property, and order support. All complaints must be filed with the court and served along with a summons to appear. Refer to Petition.
Agreement with the decision of the majority appellate interpretation of the trial (lower) court’s judgment; but which may include further comment and clarification or apply different emphasis, precedents or logic to reach the assenting determination. When all the judges completely agree on the result, one judge will write the opinion for all. Refer to Opinion, Dissenting Opinion or Precedent.
The act of forgiving a spouse who has committed or admitted to an act of wrongdoing that would constitute a ground for divorce. The court generally accepts proof of condonation by demonstrated evidence the spouses continued to live and cohabit with one another after learning of the wrongdoing, and often used as a defense to a divorce.
An important aspect of the attorney-client relationship where supporting, as well as damaging, information may be freely shared without fear it will be disclosed to others without the consent of the client.
Conflict of Interest:
Professional rules of conduct governing the prohibition of attorneys from entering into certain relationships in which, by virtue of their profession, they received or appeared to receive confidential information about the opposing party. This prohibition is extended to lawyers who have been legally consulted (interviewed) but were not retained.
In law, the rights of married person to enjoy the companionship, society, service, affection, and physical comfort, including sexual intimacy, of a spouse.
A term referring to the relationship of people who have a common ancestor, particularly blood relatives, such as brothers and sisters but not between husbands and wives. Refer to Descendants or Heirs at Law.
A legally enforceable judgment approved and issued by the court based on an agreement negotiated between the parties to a lawsuit to settle the litigated matter(s).
A person appointed by a court to manage the daily affairs of an incapacitated person. A conservator who manages financial affairs is often called a "conservator of the estate", where a person who takes care of personal matters, such as healthcare and living arrangements, is known as a "conservator of the person." In some states, one conservator may be appointed to handle all daily living tasks, and may be called a guardian, committee or curator. Refer to Guardian.
The joining of two related cases based on the legal standard, whether justice would be served, such as divorce and independent marriage-related torts (assault and battery; malicious interference with one's business; actions against third parties related to the marriage, etc.).
The fundamental, underlying document which establishes the government of a nation or state containing the principles upon which the government is founded and regulating the divisions of the sovereign powers, directing to what persons each of these powers is to be confided and the manner it is to be exercised. Refer to Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties or Civil Rights.
The legal term to describe a person in defiance of a court order or willful misconduct of the court’s ability to administer justice. Refer to Contempt of Court.
Contempt of Court:
A civil or criminal action brought against a contemnor for: a) disrespect to the decorum of the court (misconduct in the presence of a court; action that interferes with a judge's ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court); and b) willful failure to obey a judgment or an order of the court. Civil contempt, also called indirect contempt, is the most common form because it generally occurs outside of the judge's presence and evidence must be presented to prove the contempt. Such complaints in matters of family law are usually filed as a method of enforcing alimony, child support, custody and access (visitation orders) which have allegedly been violated. Refer to Civil Contempt, Criminal Contempt or Contemnor.
A description of adversarial parties in which both spouses may seek a divorce, but disagree on such issues as grounds for divorce, custody of the child(ren), access (visitation) rights, property distribution, debt allocation, child support payment amounts, spousal maintenance (alimony), etc., and request the court system to decide the matters related to the divorce.
A common fee arrangement in which the attorney is paid out of any damages that are awarded by the court, typically ranging from one-third to nearly half of the gross amount. If no damages are awarded there is no fee, however, legal costs remain an obligation of the client regardless if an award is made or not. In divorce cases, an unethical type of fee agreement that provides the lawyer with a percentage of the property settlement or judgment and is generally prohibited by the ethics rules in most states. Refer to Fee Agreement or Legal Costs.
A postponement of a trial date, hearing or other court appearance, usually requested for such reasons as unavailablility of an attorney or interested party, necessity of extra time to prepare for the matter, and other similar considerations.
An agreement, generally made in writing, between two or more competent parties in which an offer is made and accepted, and each party receives consideration (benefit) from the relationship.
An infrequently used divorce action, based on adultery as a ground for divorce, against a third-party (co-defendant) accused of committing adultery with the defendant.
A person who testifies in support of evidence presented to the court.
A method for estimating value based on the cost of reproduction or replacement of improvements, less depreciation, plus the value of the land, with land-value usually being determined by an accompanying market analysis. Refer to Appraisal, Valuation, Assets, Property, Income Analysis or Market Analysis.
A term used to generally describe legal advice, or made in reference to one or more attorneys retained to represent the interest of either the plaintiff (complainant) or defendant (respondent) in a case.
A clinical/behavioral service that renders evaluation and therapy that includes, but is not limited to, providing individual counseling, family counseling, marital counseling, group therapy, school counseling, play therapy, rehabilitation counseling, art therapy, human growth and development counseling, couples counseling, chemical abuse or dependency counseling, career counseling, and vocational disability counseling. The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of a licensed professional counselor is restricted to counselors appropriately trained in the use of these methods, techniques, or modalities. A licensed professional counselor or associate licensed counselor must not attempt to diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or advise a client with reference to problems or complaints falling outside the boundaries of counseling services. State laws, which vary by state, regulate the licensing of counselors to safeguard counseling practices and their clients. States may prescribe examinations for licensing and counselors are subject to a code of ethics.
The different parts of a complaint, which may each serve as a basis or grounds for the lawsuit. In the event the complaint embraces a single cause of action, of which only one statement is made, that statement is indifferently referred to as a count or declaration, though the latter is more the correct term. If the lawsuit holds out two or more causes of action (each of which of course requires a different statement), or when the plaintiff makes two or more different statements of one and the same cause of action, each statement is called a count, and all of them, collectively, constitute the declaration.
A claim or allegation by the defendant (respondent) against the claim or allegation by the plaintiff (claimant). Also called the “Plaintiff-in-Counterclaim” since it is made in the initial claim of the pleading. Refer to Answer.
A contextual term describing: a) a physical place for the conduct of law and related legal matters (courtroom, courthouse); a quasi-political entity or specialty (Superior Court, Family Court, Probate Court); or) the actual judge or justice acting in an official capacity. Refer to Circuit Court, Superior Court, Probate Court or Tribunal.
A compilation of various legal and administrative expenses for filing fees, serving summons and subpoenas, court reporter charges for depositions, court transcripts and copying papers and exhibits. Payment of court costs may include attorneys’ fees, and may be awarded to the successful party in a lawsuit but are not a guaranteed stipulation of a favorable judgment. Refer to Legal Costs, Attorney Fees, Contingency Fee or Fee Agreement.
Court of Equity:
A concept rather than a physical place for the conduct of law, concerned more with fairness than the strict, and sometimes unjust application of common law or statutory law with which courts may apply equitable principles and decisions to cases.
An official proclamation by a judge (or panel of judges) that defines a legal relationship between the parties before the court, or requires or authorizes the execution of certain actions by one or more parties to the case. A court order may be final (concluding the court action), or interim (performed during the legalities). In family law a final order may be the judgment of divorce. A temporary order, also called pendente lite relief, may include awards of temporary child custody, access (visitation), and/or spousal maintenance. Most orders are written and take effect when signed by the judge. However, some may be spoken orally by the judge in open court and only reduced to writing in the transcript of the proceedings.
An official of the court tasked with making a word-for-word record of what is said in court, generally by using a stenographic machine, shorthand or audio recording, for the purpose of producing a transcript of the proceedings.
Court Services Officer:
A professional with expertise in criminal and juvenile laws, as well as psychological and social dynamics of human behavior, with responsibility for ensuring that conditions ordered by the Courts are monitored, and for delivering specialized services to clients and citizens on behalf of the court. See Family Law Service Officer; Mediation, Arbitration.
A covenant marriage differs from a traditional marriage in that the married couple agrees to waive their right to a no-fault divorce. In the event that the marriage deteriorates, only adultery, abuse, abandonment or a lengthy separation will allow a divorce to be pursued. Premarital counseling is usually required to legally arrange a covenant marriage. Legal Covenant Marriages are currently available only in Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana, but with legislation also introduced in Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas.
The period of time during which a women is determined legally married. This term is used when establishing the value of property acquired during the term of the marriage, particularly as it applies to contributions made and entitlements to the distribution of same.
CRC (Children’s Rights Council):
A nationally recognized leader serving families and at-risk youth that promotes a society where laws, attitudes and public opinion affirm that “The Best Parent is Both Parents”®. Organized to serve the public purpose of advocating the healthy development of children, it is the mission of CRC to minimize the emotional, physical and economic abuse, neglect and distress of children and the development of at-risk behaviors following relationship breakups between parents involved in highly conflicted marital disputes. By guiding, informing, and coordinating alternative methodologies to parents, educators, health and human service professionals, faith-based counselors, legislators, and the public at-large, CRC is able to help reduce divorce and strengthen families through custody reform; parental mediation and training; conciliation and access; parental financial and educational support systems; legislative revision and court briefs.
The obstruction of justice by interfering with the ability of the court to properly administer the law. Criminal contempt, also called direct contempt, occurs when the person (contemnor) openly defies or attempts to intimidate the authority of the court such as disobeying an order to produce evidence, or communicating a threat to a judge, witness or other party. A contemnor may be fined, jailed or both as punishment for any act of criminal contempt. Refer to Contempt of Court or Civil Contempt.
In law, the term used to describe the interrogation (examination) of a witness called to testify by the opposing party following the direct examination, and may again be followed by redirect questioning. Refer to Testimony.
Cruel and Abusive Treatment:
A ground for divorce in a fault divorce, wherein the plaintiff must prove physical or emotional harm suffered from the willful abuse of the defendant. Refer to Fault Divorce or Ground for Divorce.
CSRA (Child Support Recovery Act):
Federal legislation that makes it a Federal misdemeanor offense for a person to willfully fail to pay a past due financial support obligation (arrearage) with respect to a child residing in another state. The past-due child support obligation must be either greater than $2,500 or must have remained unpaid for more than one year. In order to establish willfulness, the United States Attorney's Office must prove that the non-custodial parent knew about the obligation, was financially able to meet it at the time it was due, and intentionally did not pay it. The FBI holds primary investigative jurisdiction, however, Special Agents of the Office of Investigations in the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), have also been given authority to investigate violations of the CSRA. Under authority of the CSRA, the United States Attorney in each judicial district has the responsibility for determining which cases will be selected for investigation and prosecution. Refer to Arrearage or DPPA (Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act).
A general reference to the parent with whom the court has awarded physical custody (where the children will primarily reside), or legal custody (gives the parent the right to make decisions in the best interest of the child(ren)'s welfare). Refer to Custody.
Refers to the two kinds of legal arrangements which may be ordered by the court: a) for whom the child(ren) will primarily live with (physical custody); and b) the assignment of decision-making responsibility affecting their welfare (legal custody). When both parents share custody of the child(ren) after a divorce it is called joint custody, shared parenting or co-parenting, and may be either legal or physical in nature or both. In the instance where one or both parents may be determined unfit, absent, dead, in prison or dangerous to the child's well-being; custody may be awarded to a grandparent or other relative, a foster parent, orphanage, or other organization or institution as may be determined by the court to be in the best interest of the child(en). Refer to Shared Parenting.
A sworn statement containing facts about the child(ren) involved in a case, including full name(s) of the child(ren), date(s) of birth, current and past residences and other information as may be required under the law.
Any collection of psychological testing, interviews, home visits, evaluative reports and other expert opinion to provide non-bonding recommendations to the court in determining an award in the best interest of the child(ren) involving parents conflicted in a custody dispute. Refer to Guardian Ad Litem.
A misconception, that upon a child reaching a certain age, the court is bound to legally support that child’s choice to live with or spend more time with a different parent than is ordered by the court.