Hopefully, you will never have to navigate the family court system, but if you do, it is helpful if you can follow along with the discussions taking place. Legal terminology is often difficult for non-legal professionals to understand. When you are dealing with a formal legal matter in New York, not understanding the terms you hear or read could be detrimental to your case.

Your family law attorney can easily explain what the judge and other people in court are saying. However, it will be easier to absorb these discussions if you learn a little legal terminology yourself. We have provided several examples of such terminology and their definitions below.

Petitioner: This references the individual or agency that files a petition to start a case.

Respondent: This term refers to the person or agency targeted in a petition. He or she must respond to the petition.

Change in Circumstance: This phrase indicates that one or both parents have undergone a significant change in their physical, emotional or financial circumstances. The term usually arises when a parent seeks to modify an existing court order involving children.

Order of Filiation: This court order establishes the paternity of a child that is born to parents who are not married. It establishes that the child has the right to support from his or her biological father. It also helps the father acquire visitation and custody rights.

Motion: This term arises when making a formal request to a family law judge. Formally requesting a modification of existing court orders is a good example of filing a motion.

We hope these five definitions will spark an interest in learning more about family law. You can find additional information about court procedures and associated terminology by continuing to browse our blog and our website.