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Family Law Glossary
NameDescription
AnnulmentLegal action that declares a marriage or domestic partnership was never legally valid because of unsound mind, incest, bigamy, being too young to consent, fraud, force, or physical incapacity. Also known as "nullity of marriage".
Child CustodyDefines the rights and responsibilities of parents for their children. This term is also often used to describe which parent the children will live with.
Child SupportMoney paid by a parent to help support a child or children.
Child VisitationA plan for how the parents will share time with their children.
Dissolution Of MarriageA marriage or domestic partnership that is ended by a judge's decision, also known as a "divorce."
DivorceA marriage that is ended by a judge's decision, also known as a "dissolution of marriage".
Domestic PartnershipA legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life. A domestic partnership shall be established in California when both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State.
Domestic ViolenceA pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical, sexual, or emotional attacks against the other partner in a relationship. Violence, coercion, threats, intimidation and isolation may be used to control the abused partner.
HarassmentA behavior that annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety.
Legal SeparationA process where either spouse or domestic partner can end the relationship but still remain legally married or domestic partners, and get court orders on parenting and money issues with a Judgment of Legal Separation.
LitigantAny party to a lawsuit. This means plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, respondent, cross-complainant and cross-defendant, but not a witness or attorney.
Local FormsForms that can only be used in Los Angeles Superior Court cases.
MediationA process where an unbiased third party helps you and your spouse or domestic partner reach agreements you both think are fair.
Nullity Of MarriageLegal action that declares a marriage or domestic partnership was never legally valid because of unsound mind, incest, bigamy, being too young to consent, fraud, force, or physical incapacity. Also known as "annulment".
PartiesThe persons described in Family Law court as petitioner or respondent.
Parentage (Parental Relationship)A legal determination of who are the parents of a child.
Parenting PlanA detailed custody and visitation agreement that says when the child(ren) will be with each parent and how decisions about the child(ren) are made. A parenting plan must describe the legal custody and physical custody that is in the best interest of the child(ren). The parenting plan may be developed by the parents, through mediation, with the help of lawyers, or by a judge after a trial or hearing.
Parenting Plan AssessmentA one or two-day process where the evaluator interviews the parties and the child(ren) and provides testimony to the court.
PaternityLegal determination of fatherhood. Paternity must be determined before a court can order child custody, child visitation, child support, or health insurance coverage.
PetitionA formal written request filed with the court asking for a specific judicial action.
PetitionerA person that files a petition with the court.
Prenuptial AgreementA contract that two people sign prior to getting married. Its purpose is to define their rights and benefits and to settle questions of property division, alimony, and/or inheritance if the marriage ends because of death, separation, or divorce. It allows the signers to protect assets that they had acquired prior to the marriage. Without such an agreement, current state law requirements will determine these matters.
Pro PerA short form of "in propria persona." Refers to persons that present their own cases in court without lawyers; from the Latin for "in one's own proper person."
RespondentThe responding party in a family law case.
Restraining OrderA court order that prohibits a person from harassing, threatening, and sometimes merely contacting or approaching another specified person. A restraining order may be issued in a divorce matter to prevent taking a child out of the county or to prohibit one of the parties from selling marital property.
SpousalOf or relating to a person's lawfully married husband or wife.
Summary Dissolution Of MarriageA process that may be used to end a short-term marriage. Couples must meet strict requirement to be eligible.
Interpreter RequestYou can request an interpreter for your Family Law case.
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