Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. III)
Let’s take a brief timeout and reflect on several important legal terms and phrases that have popped up in our blogs over the last few months. I do this because some of these terms have been discussed in broader detail, while others were mentioned in passing or not at all.
With that said, this is Volume III. The previous two term summaries can be found below:
Between that previous two vocabulary blogs, and the 20 terms I have highlighted below, you should have a solid foundation as we move forward into more complex blog conversations.
Property liability – A financial obligation attached to property rather than an individual. In this case, property can be seized and sold to satisfy a debt, and it is not contingent on a spouse’s personal liability.
Writ of execution – Creditors seek this to have the ability to seize property to satisfy a pre-existing debt.
Premarital agreement – An agreement defining rights and obligations between two people that aren’t yet married. It becomes effective on the day they are married. Another term for this is prenup.
Postmarital agreement – An agreement defining rights and obligations between two people that is entered into during marriage. It helps spouses change the characterization of marital property or convert separate property into community property.
Cohabitation agreement – Entered into by two people who do not want to get married or who cannot get married legally but wish to live together. It enables the couple to define their rights and obligations.
Agreement in consideration of marriage –This type of agreement is different from a premarital agreement in that it is made in consideration of marriage – even if the marriage never takes place.
Separation agreement – Under common law, spouses can enter into separation agreements to specify their rights and duties while living apart but not divorced.
Right-of-survivorship agreement – At any time during marriage, spouses can agree that all or part of their community property becomes the property of the surviving spouse upon death.
Homestead – A place where a family makes its home, including the property itself and the land it is attached to. A homestead is considered someone’s primary residence, meaning that they live there the majority of the time as opposed to a vacation home. Two types are urban homestead and rural homestead.
Suit to divorce – The most common action filed to dissolve a marriage. It is brought when a spouse decides to end a marriage, whether ceremonial or informal, that was entered into without any legal impediments.
Annulment – Declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, an annulment means that the marriage is considered to have been invalid from the very beginning and never actually happened.
Suit to declare marriage void – This is similar to an annulment, but the legal impediment in this case cannot be cured or waived by the parties to the marriage – a void marriage has no legal effect at any time and is void at its inception regardless of whether a court declares it so.
ADR – Short for Alternative Dispute Resolutions. They are designed to give divorcing spouses options within the process, rather than go to trial.
Mediation – One form of ADR. An impartial third person (mediator) helps open up the lines of communication between divorcing spouses to promote a healthy settlement to their dispute.
Collaborative law – Parties to this ADR agree in advance that their lawyers will be disqualified from representing them in court if the matter they have submitted is not completely resolved by agreement.
Informal settlement conference – Another form of ADR. Thee are nonjudicial methods for settling disputes between spouses without involving attorneys. Both parties must agree in advance.
Arbitration – Each party presents its postion to an impartial third party who renders a verdict.
Cooperative law – Both spouses and their attorneys agree in writing to use their best efforts to make a good-faith attempt to resolve their dispute on an agreed basis, provide full, voluntary disclosure of all financial information, avoid formal discovery procedures, use joint rather than individual appraisals, and use interest-based negotiations.
Severance – Before trial, a party can file a motion to divide the case into two independent suits. A motion for severance is not meant to separate the issue of divorce from the division of property, but rather to separate a specific tort claim from the overall issue of divorce.
Alimony – Also known as spousal support/maintenance. Periodic payments that one party in a divorce pays the other spouse during or after a divorce. Alimony can be agreed upon by the spouses or court ordered.
Please keep this list handy for your easy reference. If you would like us to discuss a particular family law topic in these blogs, please contact our Nelson Law Group, PC office to let us know. We will be glad to help you.