Legal Dictionary

Here are some common legal terms defined.
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Term Description
Alimony Alimony means sustenance or support. It is the money paid to support a spouse by his/her divorced spouse. The court orders such payment for maintenance while they are separated, or after they are divorced (permanent alimony), or temporarily, pending a suit for divorce (pendent elite).
Breach The breaking or violation of a law, right, obligation or duty.
BUI - Boating Under the Influence See definition for DUI below.
Child Support A court awarded sum of money paid, typically on a monthly basis, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent for the support and maintenance of the child until the child reaches a certain age, usually eighteen (18), or until the child graduates from high school.
Contempt A willful disregard of a public authority. In the courtroom setting, it is an act, which is intended to embarrass, hinder or obstruct a court in its administration of justice. Also, used to refer to someone not following a court order.
Contingent Fees This is an arrangement between an attorney and a client whereby the attorney agrees to represent the client with compensation to be a percentage of the amount recovered. In other words, the client does not pay the usual hourly fee. The attorney takes the case at his own risk because he does not earn his fee until/unless he recovers money for the client.
Custody (Of Children) The care, control and maintenance of a child, which may be awarded by a court to one of the parents as in a divorce or separation proceeding.
Damages A monetary compensation, which may be recovered in the courts by a person who has suffered a loss, whether to his person, property, or rights through the unlawful act of another person.
Defendant The person defending or denying. The party against whom relief is sought in a lawsuit.
Deposition The testimony of a witness taken while not in open court. This is a discovery device by which one party asks oral (as opposed to written) questions of the other party.
Discovery This is a pre-trial device that can be used by one party to obtain facts and information about the other party in order to assist in the preparation for trial. Some examples of discovery are interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions.
Disorderly Conduct Means acting in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby that person's safety or property is placed in danger of being harmed or damaged. Disorderly Conduct can also mean using Òfighting words' to another without provocation.
Domestic Standing Order Is an order automatically issued by the court upon the filing of a divorce action that governs the rights, conduct, and property of the parties and any children affected by the divorce proceedings, while such proceedings are pending.
DUI - Driving Under The Influence DUI means being in actual physical control of any moving vehicle (every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway) while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substance(s) to the extent it is less safe for that person to drive, or having a bloodalcohol concentration of .08 (.02 if under 21) or more within three hours after such driving from alcohol consumed before such driving.
DWI - Driving While Intoxicated This designation is not used in Georgia but is in some other states.
Felony A crime more serious than those designated as misdemeanors. Under federal law, and many state statutes, any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Fighting Words Means words which as a matter of common knowledge and under ordinary circumstances will, when used to or of another person in such other person's presence, naturally tend to provoke violent resentment.
Final Order and Decree of Divorce The final order of the court officially granting a divorce to the parties.
Immigration The coming into a country of foreigners for purposes of permanent residence.
Interrogatories A discovery devise consisting of written questions about the case submitted by one party to the other party or a witness. The answers are given under oath.
Jurisdiction The geographic area in which a court has power or the types of cases it has power to hear.
Liable Bound or obligated by law or equity.
Manslaughter Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the state of mind. Murder requires either the intent to kill, a state of mind called malice or malice aforethought which may involve an unintentional killing but with a willful disregard for life. Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Mediation A process by which an impartial mediator works with both parties to reach a consensual settlement agreement between the parties without the need for a court imposed order.
MIP Minor in possession.
Misdemeanor Offenses lower than felonies and generally punishable by fine or imprisonment for 12 months or less, and otherwise than in a penitentiary.
Naturalization The process by which a person acquires nationality after birth and becomes entitled to the privileges of citizenship.
Negligence The omission to do something, which a reasonable person, guided by ordinary considerations, which ordinarily regulate human affairs, would do, or the doing of something, which a reasonable and prudent person would not do.
Open Container Means having an open container of alcohol in any passenger area of a vehicle while the vehicle is in operation on the roadway or shoulder of any public highway.
Plaintiff A person who brings an action in court.
Public Drunkenness Means appearing in an intoxicated condition in any public place or private residence not his own, other than by invitation of the owner, and acting in a boisterous manner, or using vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language.
Retainer A contract between attorney and client stating the nature of the services to be rendered and the cost of the services. When a client retains an attorney to act for him, he thereby prevents him from acting for his adversary. Usually only a partial payment.
Settlement Agreement An agreement made by a divorcing couple regarding the division of property, custody and visitation of the children, alimony, and child support. The agreement must be put into writing, signed by the parties, and accepted by the court. It becomes part of the divorce decree and does away with the necessity of having a trial on the issues covered by the agreement.
Statute Of Limitations A statue prescribing limitations to the right of action on certain described causes of action or criminal prosecutions. That is, declaring that no suit shall be maintained unless brought within a specified period of time after the right accrued.
Temporary Protective Order (TPO) Also known as a Temporary Restraining Order, a temporary protective order is an injunction banning a person from going near another person, as well as their place of residence and employment.
Torts A private or civil wrong or injury, other than breach of contract
Venue The particular county, or geographical area, in which a court with jurisdiction may hear and determine a case.