Glossary of Terms in Family Law: Part 2

Glossary of Terms in Family Law - Part 2. Washington DC
Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Carlos Lopez

In our last post, you can see the first terms of the Family Law glossary . Today we share the second part of this 3-article special so that you can use all the related terminology in case you need it when you have a legal problem in the area of ​​family law.

Harassment

Governed by statute from state to state, this is generally a criminal misdemeanor consisting of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety.

Home Study Evaluation

An evaluation by a court-appointed social worker to determine the fitness of the resources and home life provided by each parent. Requires a detailed examination of the home in every respect along with detailing the resources and lifestyle activities of the child and the relationship at home between the residents and the child.

Incest

Human sexual activity between family members or close relatives. This is a criminal offense in most or all states.

Inherited Property

Property given to the individual spouse by inheritance through a will or trust, or by the intestate laws of the state.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Voluntary and Involuntary termination of parental rights is governed by state statute. Involuntary termination is based on continued neglect and/or abuse of the child; disabling mental illness, extended and continual alcohol or drug-induced incapacity, failure to support or maintain contact with the child and other harmful and intractable dangers and offenses.

In a voluntary termination, the parent may want to exit from a long child support order and signs the papers willingly.

Joint Accounts

A bank account belonging fully and equally to two people, with either having the right to withdraw funds. These often loom important at the time of separation where one spouse takes the money without the other’s consent. The Court may order reimbursement in fashioning the equitable property division order.

Joint Custody

Joint legal custody is another term for shared custody and it is the preferred method of custody in most state custody laws, if it is appropriate under the circumstances.

The active involvement and sharing by both parents is deemed to have a positive long-term effect on the children.

Legal Custody

Joint legal custody is another term for shared custody and it is the preferred method of custody in most state custody laws, if it is appropriate under the circumstances. The active involvement and sharing by both parents is deemed to have a positive long-term effect on the children.

Legal Guardian

A person who has the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. One of the major settings for appointment of a guardian is for a minor where circumstances require protection of the child’s rights.

Marital Communications Privilege

The communications privilege covers communications made during the marriage, and cannot be invoked to protect confidential communications between currently married spouses which occurred prior to their marriage.

Unlike testimonial privilege, the communications privilege survives the end of a marriage, and may be asserted by a spouse to protect confidential communications that were made during the marriage, even after divorce or death.

Marital Property

Marital property, as opposed to separate property, generally applies to all of the property acquired by either spouse during the period of the marriage up to the date of separation, regardless of how the property is titled. A spouse can get separate property during the marriage by inheritance.

Marriage License

A marriage license is a document issued, either by a church or state authority, authorizing a couple to marry. The procedure for obtaining a license varies between jurisdictions, and has changed over time.

Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) measure that intends to allow the parties to avoid the severe adversarial system of litigation and instead come to an amicable settlement through negotiations with a qualified professional mediator.

Migratory Divorce

A divorce obtained by a spouse who temporarily resides in or moves into another state or country in order to obtain a divorce.

No molestation

A standard clause in a separation agreement that specifies that neither party will molest or harass the other nor force them to cohabitate.

Paternity Proceedings

A proceeding in which a parent petitions the court to have a specified individual tested to determine a parental connection with the child. If such is established, then in most cases that individual will be ordered to pay child support and will be legally recognized as the parent.

Petition to Leave the State

Where a custodial parent is being transferred due to work or has other compelling reason to leave the state, a petition must be filed for permission and if the move causes too much disruption and is not in the best interest of the child, then the court will prohibit the parent from leaving the state with the child.

Petition to Modify Custody Order

Filed to the Court usually by the noncustodial parent asking the Court to increase visitation or even to transfer custody to the petitioning party. Where agreement is not reached, the Court will decide after conducting a custody hearing or trial.

Petition to Modify Support

Filed to the Court usually by the noncustodial parent asking the Court to increase visitation or even to transfer custody to the petitioning party. Where agreement is not reached, the Court will decide after conducting a custody hearing or trial.

Physical Abuse

Any intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person or animal by way of bodily contact. Both a spouse and children may be the victims of physical abuse, as in child abuse and domestic violence against an adult live-in partner.

Other terms sometimes used include physical assault or physical violence, and may also include sexual abuse. Physical injury to another may be prosecuted criminally.

Physical Custody

Physical control of the child is in one parent primarily, with the non-custodial parent usually having some degree of visitation rights. This is the place where the child lives most of the time.

Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce. It may be “notarized” or acknowledged and may be subjected to compliance with the state’s Statute of Frauds.

Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. It is signed prior to the consummation of the marriage.

Family Law Attorney in Washington, D.C.

At Lopez Law Firm, (located at Washington D.C.), we sit down with you and get to the heart of your family law case, working until we get the best solution for you. Schedule your consultation today!

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