Ratio Decidendi:

Latin term meaning “the decision's reason”, referring to the core legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose a judgment's rationale which, when applied to the facts found directs a decision one way rather than the other.

Ratio Legis:

Latin term meaning “reasoning of law”, applied to the foundation or basis of law.

Real Property:

That which consists of improved or undeveloped land (structures and appurtenances thereto) including anything of a permanent nature such as trees, minerals, crops, and the interest, benefits, and inherent rights and profits arising from and annexed to land, of a permanent, immovable nature.  Real property descends from the ancestor to the heir instead of becoming the property of an executor or administrator on the death of the owner; and it must in general be made by deed and in present by the common law.  Anything that is not real property is personal property.   Refer to Personal Property, Property, Marital Property or Separate Property

Recapture of Alimony:

A federal tax rule that penalizes the party who pays alimony, if payments are “front loaded”, meaning an excess amount of the court order is paid during the first three years. If the alimony paid in the third year decreases by more than $15,000 from the second year or the alimony paid in the second and third years decrease significantly from the alimony paid in the first year, the paying spouse must include in income in the third year part of the alimony payments previously deducted. In other words, the paying spouse’s tax bill increases and the recipient’s decreases because he or she can deduct in subsequent years part of the alimony payments previously included in taxable income.


The continued, habitual or compulsive repetition of an undesirable behavior after having either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or having been informed, instructed or treated in ways to modify the objectionable behavior.


A mutual or cooperative relationship in which one state grants certain rights and privileges to other states on the condition the same rights and privileges are received.  Refer to UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act), URESA (Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act), or RURESA (Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act).


The restoration of harmonious or amicable relations between two individuals who were previously in conflict with one another, often implying a a forgiveness for injuries on either or both sides. The term is primarily applied to the parties to a divorce who cease proceedings for the dissolution of their marriage upon a resolution of their differences.


In the litigation of fault divorce, the term used in the counterclaim to accuse the plaintiff (complainant) of adultery, if initially stated as a ground for divorce against the defendant (respondent).  Refer to Fault Divorce or Divorce A Vinculo Matrimonii.


The process by which a judge or prosecutor may determine a personal disqualification and voluntarily remove (recuse) themself from hearing a particular case because of bias, conflict of interest, relation to a party, attorney or witness, or for any other exclusionary reason.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support:

Type of alimony most commonly awarded, especially following shorter lived marriages.  It is a solution the court may apply in a situation where the recipient is usually younger or more easily able to enter or return to the workforce and become financially self supporting. Rehabilitative support may also include payments for education if determined necessary to enable the recipient to become self supporting.  Refer to Alimony, Lump Sum, Temporary, or Permanent Spousal Support.


The legal term for the defendant's answer to the plaintiff's complaint.  Refer to Answer.


A legal proceeding in which one party of the lawsuit requests the court to accomplish an action, such as award support, enforce a prior court order or decree, divide property, issue a restraining order, etc. Refer to Prayer for Relief.


The judicial act of returning or recommitting a case from an appellate court back to the lower court that made the first decision in order to correct an error or modify the decision.  Refer to Appeal.

Remedial Statute:

An act by the legislature to correct defects, and abridge revisions in the common law as may have been discovered. Remedial statutes are divided into Enlarging Statutes, by which the common law is made more comprehensive and extended than it was before; and into Restraining Statutes, by which it is narrowed down to that which is just and proper. The term Remedial Statute is also applied to those acts which gives the injured party a remedy and in some respects may be defined as penal.  Refer to Statute, Public Statute, Private Statute, Declaratory Statute, Temporary Statute, Perpetual Statute, Affirmative Statute, Negative Statute, Penal Statute, or Classifications of Law.

Removal of Minor Child:

The legal proceeding, usually brought by complaint or petition, by the custodial parent to remove (move) the minor child(ren) from the state. Some states and courts allow the custodial parent flexibility in moving out of state when there are distinct benefits (termed the “real advantage” test) to the custodial parent. The theory is based on the premise that what's good for the custodial parent is good for the child, i.e., in the child's best interest. More than half the states use the 'real advantage' test, and many courts are unlikely to allow removal if the child has a close relationship with the non-custodial parent.  Refer to Wrongful Removal or Retention.

Request for Admissions:

A request from one party in a lawsuit to the other that an admission of basic issues and certain facts may be agreed upon and resolved without having to prove them at trial.  Refer to Discovery.

Request for Production of Documents:

In issues of family law, a common request from one party in a lawsuit to the other to deliver a copy of certain defined documents, such as bank and investment statements, pay stubs, titles and deeds, tax records, and other writings disclosing earnings, assets and debts.  Refer to Discovery.

Request for Inspection:

A request by a party in a lawsuit to view tangible items held in the possession or control of the opposing party. Items may include land, houses, cars, equipment, appliances, furniture, collectables and antiques, jewelry and furs, and virtually any other physical item.  Refer to Discovery.


The place of general abode, or the principal or actual dwelling place in fact without regard of intention to establish a permanent home or domicile.  A residence is generally transient in its nature, allowing a person to have more than one place of residence at a time, but may legally declare only one domicile.  A place of residence becomes a domicile when it is taken up animo manendi.  Refer to Animo Manendi, Domicile, or Habitual Residence.


Requirements determined by local statute regarding a minimum period of habitation in a specific geographic area necessary to determine the legally proper place where a particular petition for divorce should be filed and trial conducted, usually the district or county which is the residence of the plaintiff (complainant/petitioner).  Each state has different waiting periods; however most require a minimum of 12 months.  Refer to Habitual Residence or Domicile.

Res Judicata:

A Latin term meaning “the thing has been judged”, and rule of civil law that once a matter has been litigated and final judgment has been rendered by the trial court, the matter cannot be relitigated by the parties in the same court, or any other trial court.  U.S. courts employ the rule of res judicata to prevent a dissatisfied party from trying to litigate the issue a second time in the attempt to win a more favorable judgment in a different court.


The person (defendant) against whom a lawsuit is filed.  The term respondent is also used to designate the person responding to an appeal. In Juvenile court, the word refers to the person or persons named in a petition.  Refer to Defendant.

Restraining Order:

A temporary court order, issued in response to a motion, prohibiting a party from engaging in certain activities.  In matters of family law, restraining orders are usually issued to protect marital assets and to protect against domestic violence. In many states, violating a 'domestic restraining order' is a criminal offense.  Refer to Injunction, Court Order or Motion.

Restraining Statute:

            Refer to Remedial Statute.


An advance payment made to an attorney to secure the performance of legal services. The retainer is placed in a trust account and, as the attorney works, the charges are deducted from the retainer. When the advance payment is exhausted, the attorney would either bill for continued services on agreed periodic payments, or would receive a new retainer.

Retainer Agreement:

A written contract between a client and attorney indicating the terms and amount of the retainer, such as when and how work and expenses will be billed against the advance payment.

Rules of Civil Procedure:

The statutory regulations that govern court processes and practices. In contrast to substantive matters commonly adopted by divorce statutes, Rules of Civil Procedure direct courts by law to obey these rules to administer such matters as notice requirements, service of process, pleadings, time requirements for answers and counterclaims, discovery, etc.  In some instances however, courts are afforded some limited discretion to ignore certain rules if their enforcement would cause injustice.  Refer to Court of Equity.

Rules of Evidence:

The statutory regulations that govern the introduction of oral and documentary evidence, and other demonstrative materials at court hearings or depositions; and the weight such evidence may be given in determining a question of fact.  Although certain evidence may be truthful, it may not be admissible in court.  In matters of family law, the protections of confidentiality afforded to marital privilege and uncorroborated statements (hearsay) are the most commonly in conflict with admissible evidence.  Refer to Privileged Communications or Evidence.

RURESA (Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act):

A law establishing interstate procedures for issuance, modification and enforcement of financial child support orders.  Refer to Long Arm Jurisdiction or UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act).