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How to Decipher Legal Jargon

Dennis Gac

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When first beginning any process that involves the court systems, there are many, many areas where the common man, you as a Father, can get needlessly confused. One of the biggest areas of confusion is in the Legal jargon that lawyers and judges and what seems like the rest of the world knows and that you don't have a clue about. I mean, what is all this mumbo-jumbo anyway?

Well the answer is simple really. Most legal terms are just fancy ways of saying relatively simple things. Here is a list of the most commonly used legal terms that affect Fathers and Fathers rights cases.

  • Dissolution - divorce; most commonly used to mean a divorce proceedings; also used as in dissolution of marriage; a legal action ending a marriage;
  • Maintenance - a. k. a. alimony; basically this ischild support for the “X"; income that one spouse is ordered to pay to the other until that receiving spouse has had time/opportunity to get further education, training, job experience, or other source of regular income;
  • Plaintiff - the party bringing suit; essentially this is the person or persons who began the divorce proceedings;
  • Defendant - a. k. a. the respondent; the party who is the recipient of the suit; the term defendant does not mean that the Plaintiff has an ‘upper hand’ or is ‘right’ and is not granted any more legal rights by the court than are available to the defendant;
  • Complaint - a brief statement of the essentials of the plaintiff's case that is made under oath before an official who is empowered to charge people with offenses;
  • Jurisdiction - the authority of the court over the defendant and of the case;
  • Reconsideration - The losing party may request a new trial. This can be granted if the judge believes that an error of law occurred in the original trial or if newly discovered evidence is presented;
  • Arbitration - a privately agreed-to arbitrator, not a judge, rules on the case. There is no jury, pre-hearing procedures are more informal and the arbitrator is not strictly bound by rules of evidence; an alternative to trial that is often perceived of as quicker and less costly;
  • Mediation - a voluntary process in which you meet with your adversary in the company of a third person with the power to impose a solution. The mediator usually tries to facilitate settlement by clarifying each party's position, encouraging cooperation and suggesting possible solutions.
Essentially, most legal jargon has a very simple and easily understood translation into everyday English. It is not nearly as intimidating as I know it first seems from someone first entering the system. E-mail


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