Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Family Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Family Law Dictionary

Family law, like all the other octopi of the common law, is chock full of different words all and any of which can be pregnant with legal consequence.

The law seems to chase family law in a race it often loses, it seems, a step behind the needs and realities of those whom, from time to time, desperately call upon this area of the law for assistance. But at least here, in Duhaime's Family Law Dictionary, you can unfold your map and start to find your way.

Abandon
A giving up, a total desertion, an absolute relinquishment.
Abduction
To take someone away from a place without that person's consent, or by fraud.
Access
A non-custodian parent's bundle of rights or times and days during which he/she has exclusive time with the child of the separated parents.
Ad Litem
Latin: for the suit.
Adoption
To take as one's own.
Adoption of Convenience
An adoption of a child not for the sake of the child but to the convenience, usually financial, of the adopting parent(s).
Adult
An individual who has reached, or is over the age of majority.
Adult Child
A son or daughter who has reached the age of majority.
Adultery
Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not their married spouse.
Adult Interdependent Partner
A statutory term for individuals within a common-law relationship.
Age of Majority
An age generally specified by statute, at which time, upon an individual is given the full gamut of legal rights and responsibilities generally available to an adult of sound mind.
Alimony
An amount given to one spouse from another while they are separated.
Amicus Curiae
Latin: friend of the court.
Annulment
To make void forever; to cancel an event or judicial proceeding both retroactively and for the future so that in the eyes of the law, it never occurred.
Antenuptial
An event or document which pre-dates a marriage.
Arrears
A debt that is not paid on the due date adds up and accumulates in arrears.
A Vinculo Matrimonii
Latin: of marriage.
Bastard
An illegitimate child, born in a relationship between two persons that are not married (ie. not in wedlock) or who are not married at the time of the child’s birth.
Battered Woman Syndrome
A species of self-defence to manslaughter or murder in which expert evidence is led to demonstrate that a female defendant in an abusive relationship comes to believe that to save herself she must kill her husband first.
Battering Cycle
A three-phase cycle of violent behavior within a spousal relationship.
Bigamy
Being married to more than one person at the same time; a criminal offence in most jurisdictions.
Bird's Nest Custody
A form of access or custody where the children stay in the former family residence and it is the parents who rotate in and out separately and on a negotiated schedule.
Born Out of Wedlock
Born of parents who were not married at the time of birth.
Certificate of Independent Legal Advice
A document that attests that a person has received legal advice on a proposed contract, from a lawyer not associated with the other contracting party.
Chasing Order
An order sought by a party seeking return of a child that grants custody of the child to that party after the child has already been removed from the jurisdiction.
Child of the Marriage
A dependent child of two persons, married at the time of conception of the child, and for whom both parents are financially liable.
Child Support
Periodic money payments payable by a non-custodial parent, to the custodial parent, for the care of his or her child.
Civil Code
A document in civil law jurisdictions that purports to be a compendium of the applicable law as it pertains to the citizen.
Civil Covenant of Solidarity
A contract by two individuals of the age of majority, of different or same gender, to provide legal rights and obligations as a result of their cohabitation.
Civil Law
A body of law derived and evolved directly from Roman Law, the primary feature of which is that laws are struck in writing; codified, and not determined, as in the common law, by the opinions of judges based on historic customs.
Civil Union
A formal union between two people, of the same or of different genders which results in, but falls short of, marriage-like rights and obligations.
Closed Adoption
An adoption of a child in which the relinquishing parent surrenders his or her parental rights to unknown parties.
Collaborative Law
A family law dispute resolution encouragement process set in writing which includes a promise to negotiate in good faith, to engage in the exchange of private and confidential information on a without prejudice basis, and a motivational commitment that the participating lawyers or law firms would withdraw if the negotiations fail.
Collaborative Law Participation Agreement
The contract which creates and triggers the formal engagement in the collaborative law process, designed to encourage the settlement of a family law dispute outside of litigation.
Collusion
A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party.
Common Law Marriage
An ancient form of marriage, by consent and consummation but otherwise recognized in the common law.
Common Law Relationship
Two unmarried persons living together as though married.
Community Property
A marriage property legal term; property acquired or owned during a marriage or, where recognized, a marriage-like relationship, and which belongs, notwithstanding title, as in a partnership and as tenants in common (“hence “community”), to each spouse equally and subject to division on that basis in the event of separation or divorce.
Concubinage
Civil law term for an unmarried couple living nonetheless as husband and wife or, where same-sex relationships are recognized by law, such similar cohabitation relationships.
Concurrent Estates
Property interests owned by two or more persons at the same time.
Condonation
Obvious or implied forgiveness.
Connivance
Secretly privy or accessory to the act of another.
Consanguinity
Common blood, descendants of a same common ancestor.
Consortium
Companionship, love and affection and intimacy between husband and wife within a mariage.
Corporal Punishment
A punishment for some violation of conduct which involves the infliction of pain on, or harm to the body
Corrective Force
Force used upon those over which an individual generally has guardian responsibilities, used to remove a dependent from a particular situation or to secure compliance with instructions.
Coverture Formula
A method of proportionate division of a spouse's pension benefits as accrued during the period of marriage.
Criminal Conversation
Criminal conversation: synonymous with adultery.
Cruelty
Conduct that causes bodily or mental injury, or apprehension to such injury, to a person or an animal, without legitimate purpose.
Curtesy
Widower's right to an interest in his deceased wife's real property.
Custody
Charge and control of a person or item of property.
Deadbeat Dad
A father who ignores a Court order to pay child support.
Decree Absolute
The name given to a final and conclusive court order after the condition of an interim or intervening order (decree nisi) is met.
Decree Nisi
A provisional decision of a court which does not have force or effect until a certain condition is met such as another petition brought before the court or after the passage of a period time.
Divorce
The final, legal ending of a marriage, by Court order.
Divorce a Mensa et Thoro
An obselete form of divorce order which did not end the marriage but allowed the parties to reside separate; in effect, a legal or judicially-sanctioned separation of two married persons.
Djabr
Muslim law: a father's right to constrain his son or daughter into a marriage of the father’s choosing.
DNA
Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. A chromosome molecule which carries genetic coding unique to each person with the only exception of identical twins (that is why it is also called 'DNA fingerprinting').
Domestic Violence
An assault or battery upon another member of a family or, in some jurisdictions, threatening words.
Double Dipping
Double recovery of funds or property through two different sources effectively or potentially doubling the entitlement.
Double Recovery
Double dipping; accessing funds or property through two different sources effectively or potentially doubling the entitlement.
Dower
A widow's life estate interest in her husband's real property if he died intestate.
Dum Casta
Latin: for so long as she remains chaste.
Dum Sola
Latin: for so long as she remains unmarried.
Dum Sola et Casta Vixerit
Latin: for so long as she remains single (unmarried) and chaste.
Dum Vidua
Latin: for so long as she remains a widow.
Enoch Arden Law
A statute that confers validity on a second marriage of a missing person's spouse after a specified absence.
Enticement
An old common law action against any person who caused a husband to lose the love, services or society of his wife.
En Ventre Sa Mere
French: A fetus recognized as a child then alive for the purposes of wills and estates.
Erunt animae duae in carne una
Latin: two souls in one flesh.
Ex-nuptial Child
A child born outside of marriage.
Family
The central, fundamental unit of society responsible for the primary development and socialization of children.
Feme Covert
French: a married woman.
Feme Sole
French: an unmarried woman.
Guardian
An individual who, by legal appointment or by the effect of a written law, is given custody of both the property and the person of one who is unable to manage their own affairs, such as a child or mentally-disabled person.
Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian appointed to direct litigation on behalf and in the interests of a person otherwise incapable of managing their affairs.
Guardian by Nature
A mostly discarded assumption of law; that the legal guardian of a child is the father or, on his death, the mother.
Guardian of the Person
A person appointed to manage the health and well-being of another.
Guardianship
The office or duty of one who legally has the care and management of the person, or the estate, or both, of a child.
Habitual Residence
Ordinary residence.
Husband-Wife Privilege
A special right that married persons have to keep communications between them secret and even inaccessible to a court of law.
Idda
Muslim law: The mandatory waiting period before a divorce created by talaq becomes effective.
Illegitimate Child
A child born out of wedlock
In Loco Parentis
A person who, though not the natural parent, has acted as a parent to a child and may thus be liable to legal obligations as if he/she were a natural parent.
Inure
To take effect, to result; to come into operation.
Inurement Clause
A clause in a clegal document, such as a contract or will, that purports to extend the benefits of the document beyond the signatories.
Jactitation
A false boast designed to increase standing at the expense of another.
Joint Custody
A child custody Court decision that both parents share joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
Joyce Model of Joint Guardianship
A British Columbia model of joint guardianship in respect to children as between separated parents.
Jus Vitae Necisque
Latin: Power of life and death.
Kelsey S. Father
(USA) When an unwed father promptly demonstrates a full commitment to his parental responsibilities, he is entitled to recognition of his real parental relationship absent a showing of unfitness.
Khula
Muslim law: a divorce on the wife's initiative and upon payment of an agreed amount to the husband.
Kidnap
To confine a person against his or her will.
Kin
A blood relative.
King's Proctor
An English office investigating and appearing in select family law cases.
Kith and Kin Arrangement
An agreement between a child protection worker and a member of the child’s extended family or other person known to the child, to care for and financially support the child.
Legal Custody
The lawful entitlement to make decisions in regards to another, such as a parent or a prison warden.
Legitimate Child
A child conceived or born during marriage.
Love
An emotional attachment towards another evidenced by kindness, consideration, understanding, patience, sacrifice or sufferance, if necessary, and words and actions.
Maintenance
The obligation of one person to contribute, in part or in whole, to the cost of living of another person.
Marital Property
Property acquired by either of two spouses while they are married together.
Marriage
The voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
Marriage Agreement
An agreement between two persons in anticipation of or during the marriage, and in regards to rights and responsibilities as they may flow from the relationship.
Marriage Brokerage Contract
A contract of introduction to unwed persons, payment due and payable upon marriage.
Marriage Contract
A contract between prospective husband and wife, or during the marriage, and which settles in whole or in part, their respective rights and obligations as regards the marriage.
Marriage of Convenience
A marriage entered into not for love and mutual affection but in order to facilitate immigration.
Matrimonial
Of or relating to the state of being married; of marriage.
Matrimonial Asset
An asset owned by one or both of two persons who are married to one another which, upon the application of one of the spouses to a court, is subject to division between them.
Matrimonial Debt
A debt contracted during a marriage and for which both spouses are equally liable, regardless of who contracted the debt or who is directly liable for it.
Matrimonial Property
Property owned by one or both of two persons who are married to one another which, upon the application of one of the spouses to a court, is subject to division between them.
Matrimony
The legal state of being married.
Mental Cruelty
Wanton, malicious or unnecessary infliction of pain or suffering upon the feelings or emotions of another.
Minor
A young person not yet of the age of majority.
Muta
Muslim law: a temporary marriage; for a fixed period.
Name
A unique combination of a given and a surname, assigned to an individual, generally at birth, and used to identify distinguish that individual both socially and in regards to the assertion or defence of legal rights.
Nashiza
Muslim law: a disobedient wife.
Necessaries of Life
A product or service sold or provided to an individual not legally competent, which are useful to his or her comfort or convenience taking into account the age and condition of the individual.
Nikah
Muslim law: marriage.
Nuptias non concubitus sed consensus facit.
Latin: consent, not physical intercourse, constitutes marriage.
Occupational Rent
A matrimonial or joint tenant property compensatory claim based on an allegation that one spouse or joint tenant ought to be debited the value of her or his exclusive occupation of the family or jointly-held home.
Open Adoption
An adoption in which the natural parents select the adoptive parents, and may give the natural parents some access to the child.
Orphan
A person who has lost one or both of his or her natural parents.
Palimony
A judicial award of spousal support or compensation for services, money, and goods contributed during a longterm nonmarital relationship.
Parallel Parenting
A form of custody and guardianship order in which such authority transfers from parent to parent as the children are exchanged.
Parens Patriae
Latin: literally, father of the country. Refers to the inherent jurisdiction of the courts to make decisions concerning people who are not able to take care of themselves.
Parent
Father or mother or as otherwise may be defined by statute such as through adoption or same-sex relationships. Also, the controlling corporation of another.
Parental Alienation
A form of emotional child abuse where a custodial parent belittles or vilifies the other parent to the child.
Pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant
Latin: The father is he who is married to the mother.
Paternity
Being a father.
Payee
The person to whom payment is addressed or given.
Payor
The person who makes required payment(s).
Per Quod Consortium Amisit
Latin: whereby he loses the company of his wife.
Personal Indignities
When one spouse has offered such indignities to the other spouse as to render his or her condition in life intolerable.
Personal Rehabilitation
(USA-family law) The restoration of a parent to a formerly held constructive and useful role as a parent within a reasonable time.
Petit Treason
Treason by a servant against his master or a wife against her husband
Physical Care
A variant of child custody distinguished in some jurisdictions as the mere right to maintain a home for the minor child and provide for his/her routine care.
Physical Cruelty
Family law, grounds for divorce, cruelty which is physical in nature and which renders continued cohabitation intolerable.
Physical Custody
The right to organize and administer the day to day care of a child or a thing.
Polyandry
The having of more than one husband by a wife.
Polygamy
Being married to multiple wives or husbands at the same time.
Polygyny
One man with several wives.
Postnuptial Agreement
A separation agreement.
Predatory Marriage
A spousal relationship between a much younger caregiver and a rich, older or sickly person, for the covert and primary purpose not of love, but an interest in the estate of that other person.
Pre-nuptial Agreement
A contract entered into by prospective spouses prior to marriage but in contemplation and in consideration thereof.
Psychological Parent
One who essentially serves as a second parent to a child and is a relationship to which the child's parent has consented.
Putative Father
A presumed but not DNA-confirmed father of a child.
Queen's Proctor
An English office investigating and appearing in select family law cases.
Reconciliation
The act of separated spouses returning to family cohabitation.
Relator
An informer; a person who has supplied the facts required for a criminal prosecution or a civil suit, or who institutes legal action on behalf of the government.
REMO
Abbreviation for reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders, an international system of enforcement of support orders.
Separate Property
A marital property regime wherein property acquired or owned by a married person and which, notwithstanding the marriage or, where recognized, a marriage-like relationship, remains the separate property of the spouse who acquired or to whom was gifted the item of property.
Separation Agreement
A private contract between separating spouses resolving issues of joint, family or marital property or assets, support and child responsibilities.
Shared Custody
A situation where a child spends about an equal amount of time in the care and home of each of the two separated parents, and the parents share the legal rights in regards to the child.
Special or Extraordinary Expense
A term of art in Canadian family support law referring to outside-of-the-ordinary expenses related to the care and upkeep of a child.
Split Custody
A child custody decision which results in the splitting up of the children; that legal custody of one or more of the children is with the father, and that of one or more of the other children are with the mother.
Spousal Abuse
The physical or emotional abuse of a spouse.
Spousal Support
Payments to an ex-spouse which are temporary or indefinite, lump sum or periodic, designed to pool and share the income of both spouses for that period of time necessary for the lower-income spouse to become economically self-sufficient.
Spouse
To be married or as if married.
Step-Child
Help!
Step-Parent
The status of one spouse in regards to the natural children of the other spouse issue from another.
Talaq
Muslim law: The right given to a Muslim man to divorce his wife by mere unequivocal statement.
Transmutation
The conversion of a separate property asset into marital property intentionally or by virtue of words and actions during marriage.
UIFSA
The American uniform child and spousal support legislation, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act already adopted and implemented by most states.
Undue Hardship
Special or specified circumstances that partially or fully exempt a person from performance of a legal obligation so as to avoid an unreasonable or disproportionate burden or obstacle.
Unjust Enrichment
Benefiting from the action or property of another without legal justification.
URESA
Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act of the United States.
Uterine
Related to the uterus or, in estate law, siblings issue of a common mother.
Wedlock
Being married.
Widow's Quarantine
A reprieve given to a widow after the death of her husband giving her 40-day exclusive occupancy of the spousal home, estate notwithstanding.
Zihar
Muslim law: an insult proffered by a husband upon his wife which likens the wife to some prohibited female relation of his, and exposes the husband to divorce.

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