20 Common Words Used in NY Family Courts

Family Court Terms You Need to Know

We don’t expect our clients to be familiar with or knowledgeable of the legal verbiage used in New York family courts. After all, they don’t often engage with the court system unless they have to. Our Dutchess County family lawyers understand that our clients will come across countless legal terms that they likely haven’t encountered before, which is why we want to prepare them for what to expect at every stage of the process. It not only provides clarity but also confidence.

You found the right place to learn about 20 common words used in New York family courts. Thus, we invite you to learn the following terms to best prepare for your family legal matters:

  1. Affidavit of Service: A sworn statement that confirms a summons, notice, or order by stating the time and manner in which the paperwork was delivered to a party.
  2. Appeal: A formal request for a higher court to review a lower court’s decision.
  3. Arrear: An unpaid or overdue debt.
  4. Change in Circumstance: A significant change in the condition of one or both parents that justifies a child custody or support order modification.
  5. Ex-Parte Communication: A legal action made by one party without notifying the other party
  6. Mediation: A resolution method involving a neutral third party who helps the disputing parties reach a mutual agreement.
  7. Motion: A formal request made to a judge for an order or judgment.
  8. Objection: A written request for a Judge to review a Support Magistrate’s decision.
  9. Petitioner: Also known as a plaintiff, it is a party that files a petition to initiate a case.
  10. Residence: A place where a person lives (whether or not they intend to make it a permanent home)
  11. Respondent: Also known as a defendant, it is the party against which the petition is filed and that responds to the petition.
  12. Custody: A court's determination of which parent (or another appropriate party) should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor child.
  13. Guardianship: Managing the affairs of a person who cannot act for themselves, such as a minor or incapacitated person.
  14. Modification: A change or alteration to a court order.
  15. Enforcement: A petition that is filed against a person who fails to comply with the terms of an order to achieve adherence.
  16. Sole Custody: A person who has full responsibility for a child, including making important decisions without the consent of the other parent.
  17. Joint Physical Custody: This does not mean 50/50 time with each parent but rather getting reasonable time with them based on factors that vary on a case-by-case basis.
  18. Joint Legal Custody: Both parents can make decisions for the child but are advised to consult each other to ensure they’re “on the same page.” If a parent dies or gets disabled, the other parent gets sole legal custody without having to go through court.
  19. Judgment: A determination of the parties’ rights that refers to and states a verdict or decision, or the circumstances on which it is based.
  20. Order: A written direction or command from a court or judge.

Get Clarity From our Family Attorneys in Dutchess County

Now that you’re up-to-date on the legal terms used in New York family courts, it’s time to get started on your case. Our Dutchess county family lawyers utilize a strategic and practical problem-solving approach in every case we handle, which is tailored to our clients’ individual needs and goals.

If you’re looking for a team of trusted and experienced lawyers to help resolve your family issues, choose the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC. We welcome you to contact us at (845) 605-4330 to learn more!

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