Rikers Island
New YorkFamily Court Info

Family Court Glossary

Action: Lawsuit

Adultery: Sexual infidelity - constitutes grounds for divorce

Affidavit: Notarized statement made under oath

Affirmation: Written and signed attorney statement

Affirmative Defense: Legal defenses in response to a spouse's pleading, even if the allegations of the Complaint were true.

Allegation: Statements asserted by one of the parties in a pleading or affidavit

Appeal: Review by a higher court of the proceedings resulting in an outcome in order to determine if an error was made and if such error is significant enough to reverse the decision

Answer: Defendant's response to the petition/complaint by the petitioner/plaintiff

Child Support: Money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the purpose of maintaining the welfare of the child

Claim: A charge by one person against another

Complaint or Petition: The first pleading stating demands and reasons for them

Complaintant, Plaintiff or Petitioner: The party that initiates action

Condonation: Forgiving adultery where it's no longer grounds for divorce

Contempt: Willfully disobeying a court order or judgment which may result in fines or imprisonment

Contested Divorce: Divorce that involves any issue that is disputed, such as grounds for divorce, child custody and visitation, or child support.

Counterclaim: claims by the defedant/respondent against the plaintiff/petitioner/complainant Court Appearance: Physical presence at a court proceeding.

Decree: Judge's final judgment in a divorce, separation or annulment

Default Judgment: A Judgment issueed because they failed to appear or submit papers during the proper time

Defendant or Respondent: The party defending itself against the action brought by the complainant/petitioner

Deposition: Witness testimony given under oath, but out of court for the purpose of discovering facts about the case

Discovery: The process by which parties exchange information and otherwise collect information and documentation necessary before trial is to begin

Disclosure: Procedures required to be undertaken by lawyers to determine the nature, scope, and credibility of opposing claim and defenses. May include oral depositions, written interrogatories, blood tests, medical and psychological examinations, notices and other information

Distributive Award: A lump sum ordered by the Court

Emancipation: The point at which a child is recognized as an independent adult that no longer requires child support. Emancipation occurs at the age or 21, upon marriage, upon leaving the parents' residence or joining the military.

Equitable Distribution: Division of marital property based on several factors, such as length of the marriage, financial contribution, spousal contribution, etc.

Ex-Parte: Relief granted without the presence of one of the parties

Hearing: Court proceeding where testimony is given

Indemnification: Reimbursement of another person in case of an anticipated loss

Injunction: A Court Order forbidding someone from doing a particular act which is likely to cause injury or property loss to another party (same as a Restraining Order).

Joint Property: Property held in the name of multiple people

Jurisdiction: The power of the court to hear a case and issue a ruling

Marital Property: Property subject to Equitable Distribution by the Court

Mistrial: Termination of a trial due to a fundamental error that made the trial invalid and must result in a new trial

Motion: A request to the court

Negotiated Agreement or Settlement - Resolution of the disputed issues.

Order: The Court's ruling on a motion

Pleading: Complaints, answers, counterclaims, replies and other legal papers prepared by attorneys and submitted to the judge

Prayer for relief: Part of a pleading that specifies requested relief

Privilege: The right to make admissions to an attorney, clergyman, psychiatrist, spouse, a doctor or certified social worker without fear it will be admitted into evidence later

Relief: Whatever a party asks for

Reply: Response to the counterclaim.

Separate Property: Property not subject to equitable distribution and whoever has title to it keeps it fully. Includes property brought into the marriage and not intermingled, gifts, inheritance, personal injury awards, etc.

Separation: A judgment or a written agreement authorizing the spouses to live separately. May involve issues traditionally associated with a divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, but not equitable distribution or divorce

Spousal Support or Maintenance: payments by one spouse to another, which sometimes takes place after separation or divorce

Stipulation: Agreement between parties

Subpoena: A document requiring a person to appear in court or at a deposition

Temporary or Pendente Lite Motion: Motion for temporary relief until final decision is made

Venue: The county where the case is taking place

Written Interrogatories: Written questions given to the opponent and answered under oath during discovery

To hire a New York Family Law attorney, please call (646) 350-0601.