Family Law Terms and Definitions
After perusing the site, you might have questions regarding some of the terms within these articles and how California actually defines these terms. Below is a list of the terms that have been used repeatedly and are good to know as you continue to read up on these topics.
Annulment – the legal invalidation of a marriage or domestic partnership by a court of law; reasons to petition for an annulment include, but are not limited to: the illegal age of consent by one or both parties, temporary insanity of one or both parties, or the possibility that the union was forced.
Child custody – used to describe the relationship of the child/children under the age of 18 after the dissolution of a marriage or domestic partnership. It includes who the child/children will live after the end of a marriage.
Child support – money that is given by a parent to the other parent to help financially support the child/children.
Domestic partnership – two people who are not married, yet have entered into a permanent, long – term, sexual relationship. They live together and share domestic duties. This type of relationship is common in same – sex relationships. In California, this union is legal once a Declaration of Domestic Partnership is filed by both parties with the Secretary of State.
Domestic violence – any type of emotional, physical, and/or sexual act of violence directed towards a spouse or domestic partner. This includes, but is not limited to: coercion, threats, intimidation, and assault.
Legal Separation – an arrangement made within a court of law, by which both parties of a marriage or domestic partnership agree to remain legally together, yet live apart. Usually couples choose this due to issues within the marriage or domestic partnership, and it gives them the time and space needed to decide whether or not to stay together.
Mediation – the process of negotiation during the dissolution of a marriage whereby an unbiased third party is involved.
Nullity – see annulment.
Parentage – the decision by a court of law as to who the parents of the child/children are that were born within a marriage or domestic partnership.
Paternity – the determination by a court of law as to who the father is of the child/children that were born during a relationship, marriage, domestic partnership, or otherwise.
Spousal and domestic partner support – also known as alimony, it is the duty set out by a court of law for one of the parties within a marriage or domestic partnership to financially support the other spouse or domestic partner for a given amount of time.
Visitation – a limited form of child custody, whereby one parent is allowed to visit the child/children at a given time, which was predetermined in a court of law. This parent is usually the one who does not have sole custody of the child/children.