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Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor

What you never thought you'd need to know about divorce

Lawyers, Legalese and Latin: Why Lawyers Are Such Language Junkies

Posted in Divorce Process, Domestic Violence, Miscellaneous

Hi there,

I think of myself as a down-to-earth person,  but I unthinkingly use language that is the opposite. I blame this on my law school education, although I think lawyers self-select with a love of language and words.

Last week’s post was titled “Domestic Violence Redux.”  It wasn’t until I was asked for the meaning of “redux” that I realized how arcane the normal language of the law can be. So with no further ado a dictionary, of sorts, of the more commonly used legalese you may hear your attorney using in your divorce or other matters.

  • Redux = revisited
  • Pro se = a litigant is by himself, no counsel
  • Guardian ad litem = a guardian for the purposes of the litigation, commonly referred to as a GAL
  • Propounded, as in “we propounded interrogatories” = “we asked”
  • Interrogatories = written questions to be answered under oath in a set time frame
  • Pro bono = literally means “for good.” Lawyers do a lot of pro bono work for free or reduced fees generally representing folks who can’t afford lawyers, and also when writing briefs for causes the lawyers believe are good
  • Res judicata = already decided in this case, so can’t be litigated again
  • Stare decisis = settled law, which of course is never really settled as law is always changing
  • Mens rea = criminal intent, not usually an issue in family law
  • Res ipsa loquitor = the thing speaks for itself, generally used in personal injury

Many of these terms came from Roman Law through British Common Law to our present day law. I hope they’re helpful!




Please Nominate Us for the ABA Journal’s Top 100 Blawgs!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Hi there,

Please indulge me as I ask for a very quick  favor.

The American Bar Association Journal is accepting nominations for their Blawg 100 Amici, an annual list of the 100 best legal blogs. If you’re a fan of MassachusettsDivorceLawMonitor.com, I’d be grateful for your nomination, which you can submit here. You’ll be asked to provide your contact information and a quick sentence or two about why you’re fan.

Nominations are due no later than 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 8, 2014. Thank you so much for the support!



Domestic Violence Redux

Posted in Domestic Violence

Hi there,

I’m writing this on a rainy, thundery Monday, and the gloom feels appropriate for the subject of today’s post. Domestic violence is NOT always male to female. Female to male and same-sex violence happen and are just as bad, but often less reported.

All states now have anti-violence protective laws, but a law is only useful if you take advantage of it. It is human nature to not want to recognize the first steps toward disaster in an important relationship. This is a good list of warning signs. If you saw your relationship in that list, leave. The sooner you do the safer you will be. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get out of an abusive relationship. This quick video shows the terrifying progression of one woman’s abusive relationship.

Domestic abuse is not just physical, it often is financial as well. Controlling money is the beginning, and making the legal exit overwhelmingly expensive can be the end. This article paints a good picture of what financial abuse can look like.

Despite the fact that most states have had abuse prevention laws in place for over 25 years, and despite the fact that lip service is given by everyone to how bad abuse is, responses like this still happen. Not much has changed where sports money is involved since I represented Nancy Saad Parish.

The best advice is still to LEAVE as soon as you realize you are a victim. Say something if you think someone close to you is being victimized. Be careful, think it through, don’t make the situation worse, but understand that victims often don’t realize they are victims and outside support can be a huge help.