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LEGAL TERMS

DIVORCE

The legal termination of marriage. All states require a spouse to identify a legal reason for requesting a divorce when that spouse files the divorce papers wit... (more...)
The legal termination of marriage. All states require a spouse to identify a legal reason for requesting a divorce when that spouse files the divorce papers with the court. These reasons are referred to as grounds for a divorce.

NEXT FRIEND

A person, usually a relative, who appears in court on behalf of a minor or incompetent plaintiff, but who is not a party to the lawsuit. For example, children a... (more...)
A person, usually a relative, who appears in court on behalf of a minor or incompetent plaintiff, but who is not a party to the lawsuit. For example, children are often represented in court by their parents as 'next friends.'

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

Differences between spouses that are considered sufficiently severe to make married life together more or less impossible. In a number of states, irreconcilable... (more...)
Differences between spouses that are considered sufficiently severe to make married life together more or less impossible. In a number of states, irreconcilable differences is the accepted ground for a no-fault divorce. As a practical matter, courts seldom, if ever, inquire into what the differences actually are, and routinely grant a divorce as long as the party seeking the divorce says the couple has irreconcilable differences. Compare incompatibility; irremediable breakdown.

FITNESS

The ability of a prospective adoptive parent to provide for the best interests of a child. A court may consider many aspects of the prospective parents' lives i... (more...)
The ability of a prospective adoptive parent to provide for the best interests of a child. A court may consider many aspects of the prospective parents' lives in evaluating their fitness to adopt a child, including financial stability, marital stability, career obligations, other children, physical and mental health and criminal history.

DILUTION

A situation in which a famous trademark or service mark is used in a context in which the mark's reputation for quality is tarnished or its distinction is blurr... (more...)
A situation in which a famous trademark or service mark is used in a context in which the mark's reputation for quality is tarnished or its distinction is blurred. In this case, trademark infringement exists even though there is no likelihood of customer confusion, which is usually required in cases of trademark infringement. For example, the use of the word Candyland for a pornographic site on the Internet was ruled to dilute the reputation of the Candyland mark for the well-known children's game, even though the traditional basis for trademark infringement (probable customer confusion) wasn't an issue.

IN CAMERA

Latin for 'in chambers.' A legal proceeding is 'in camera' when a hearing is held before the judge in her private chambers or when the public is excluded from t... (more...)
Latin for 'in chambers.' A legal proceeding is 'in camera' when a hearing is held before the judge in her private chambers or when the public is excluded from the courtroom. Proceedings are often held in camera to protect victims and witnesses from public exposure, especially if the victim or witness is a child. There is still, however, a record made of the proceeding, typically by a court stenographer. The judge may decide to seal this record if the material is extremely sensitive or likely to prejudice one side or the other.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

A document that provides proof of a marriage, typically issued to the newlyweds a few weeks after they file for the certificate in a county office. Most states ... (more...)
A document that provides proof of a marriage, typically issued to the newlyweds a few weeks after they file for the certificate in a county office. Most states require both spouses, the person who officiated the marriage and one or two witnesses to sign the marriage certificate; often this is done just after the ceremony.

INCURABLE INSANITY

A legal reason for obtaining either a fault divorce or a no-fault divorce. It is rarely used, however, because of the difficulty of proving both the insanity of... (more...)
A legal reason for obtaining either a fault divorce or a no-fault divorce. It is rarely used, however, because of the difficulty of proving both the insanity of the spouse being divorced and that the insanity is incurable.

VISITATION RIGHTS

The right to see a child regularly, typically awarded by the court to the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. The court will deny visitation... (more...)
The right to see a child regularly, typically awarded by the court to the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. The court will deny visitation rights only if it decides that visitation would hurt the child so much that the parent should be kept away.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Beth R. v. Donna M.

... LAURA E. DRAGER, J. In this divorce action arising out of a same-sex marriage entered into in Canada, defendant moves for dismissal of the action on the grounds that the marriage is void under New York law. ... On April 24, 2007, plaintiff filed the instant divorce action. ...

CM v. CC

... Earlier this year, the parties filed for divorce in this court and an inquest on grounds was held. ... The parties have submitted a joint memorandum of law requesting that this court grant a divorce in this matter once the ancillary issues of custody and finances are resolved. [1]. ...

Mesholam v. Mesholam

... PIGOTT, J. The question is whether in this case the commencement of a prior, discontinued divorce action may serve as the valuation date for marital property for purposes of equitable distribution in a later divorce action. ... The wife commenced an action for divorce in 1994. ...