The bringing together of several lawsuits or several parties all in one lawsuit, provided that the legal issues and the factual situation are the same for all plaintiffs and defendants.  A joinder may be mandatory if a person necessary to a fair result was not included in the original lawsuit, or it may be permissive if joining the cases together is only a matter of convenience or economy.

Joint Custody:

A legally ordered arrangement, for parents who do not live together, by which neither parent is considered the sole custodial parent but equally share the rights and responsibilities for raising the child(ren).  The children alternate their residence between mother and father according to a negotiated schedule, and both parents concur on important decisions. In a joint custody award, the Court may further “induce” parental cooperation with the expectation it will review compliance and collaborative efforts, reserving authority to change the order to sole custody in favor of the more cooperative parent. Refer to Joint Legal Custody, Joint Physical Custody, Shared Parenting, or Sole Custody.

Joint Legal Custody:

Often referred to as Shared Parenting, meaning both parents equally contribute to making the key decisions such as health, education, general welfare and religion affecting the child(ren).  Each parent also has the right to access the child(ren)’s educational, medical, psychological, dental or other records, and the right to speak with and obtain information regarding the child(ren) from school officials, health care providers, counselors or other persons interacting with the child(ren). Refer to Joint Custody, Joint Physical Custody, Shared Parenting.

Joint Petition:

A shared pleading filed when both parties request the court to accomplish the same action or ruling, such as grant a no-fault divorce or approve an uncontested separation agreement, or to  grant a divorce.  Refer to No-Fault Divorce or Separation Agreement

Joint Physical Custody:

Incorporates legal parental rights and responsibilities to make important decisions regarding issues of health, education, general welfare and religion affecting the child(ren), as well as, sharing a dual residency status of living with both parents.  While the physical arrangement does not always work out to be an exact 50/50 split, the court considers the order joint and physical if the child spends a significant amount of time each parent. Refer to Custody, Joint Custody, Joint Legal Custody, or Shared Parenting.

Joint Property:

A common reference to either: a) real property that names a co-owner(s) on the deed or title that retain undivided ownership of the property in the event of death of another co-owner; or b) real or personal property mutually held together by both spouses.  Refer to Joint Tenancy or Marital Property.

Joint Tenancy:

A legal relationship and method referencing the ownership of real property by which one person mutually holds legal title to property with other persons in such a way that when one of the joint owners dies, the remaining party(s) owns an undivided interest in the entire property; more legally referred to as Tenancy in Common with rights of survivorship.


The court’s official determination on a matter declaring the rights and obligations of the parties to a lawsuit which has been submitted to it for decision.  Refer to Decision.

Judgment of Divorce:

Refer to Absolute Divorce or Decree.

Judgment Nisi:

Refer to Interlocutory Judgment.

Judicial Foreclosure:

A judgment by a court in which a borrower's right to redeem benefit is taken away through a court-supervised sale of real property that secured the debt, is sold under foreclosure proceedings to pay the debt. A judgment of judicial foreclosure may be preferred by a credit in favor of a foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust to secure a "deficiency judgment" for any amount still owed by the debtor after the foreclosure sale.  Refer to Community Property, Equitable Distribution or Marital Property.


A Latin term meaning “been sworn" referring to the portion of an affidavit in which a person has sworn that the contents made in a written statement by the signer are true.  In executing a jurat, a notary guarantees that the signer personally appeared before the notary, was given an oath or affirmation attesting to the truthfulness of the document, and signed the document in the notary's presence. It is always important that the notary positively identify a signer for a jurat in certification that it was the signer who attested to the truthfulness of the document contents under penalty of perjury. However, jurat notarizations do not prove a document is true, legal, valid or enforceable.  Refer to Notary Public.


A court’s legal authority to hear a case, and issue enforceable orders and judgments within a particular geographic area and/or rule on certain types of legal cases.  In matters of family law, jurisdiction is primarily determined by the county of residency of the plaintiff.  Different levels of courts in a state have jurisdiction over diverse legal actions and may involve varying amounts of money.  Superior Courts (sometimes referred to as District or County Circuit Courts in several states) generally exercise authority over litigation embroiled in larger sums of money, domestic relations, probate of estates of deceased persons, guardianships, conservatorships, and trials of felonies. Municipal courts (or other local courts) have jurisdiction over cases involving lesser amounts of money, misdemeanors (crimes not punishable by state prison), traffic matters, and preliminary hearings on felony charges to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial by the superior court.  Refer to In Personam Jurisdiction or Rem Jurisdiction.


The study of the fundamental nature of law, and the analysis of its purpose, structure and application within the legal system.

Justice System:

A common term used to describe the courts, agencies, attorneys, procedures and other bureaucracies responsible for administering legal functions at the Federal, state or local level within the United States.