A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
admissible evidence
The evidence that a trial judge or jury may consider, because the rules of evidence deem it reliable. See evidence, inadmissible evidence.
admission
(1) An out-of-court statement by your adversary that you offer into evidence as an exception to hearsay rule. (2) One side's statement that certain facts are true in response to a request from the other side during discovery.
adopt
(1) To assume the legal relationship of parent to another person's child. See also adoption. (2) To approve or accept something -- for example, a legislative body may adopt a law or an amendment, a government agency may adopt a regulation or a party to a lawsuit may adopt a particular argument.
adopted child
Any person, whether an adult or a minor, who is legally adopted as the child of another in a court proceeding. See adoption.
adoption
A court procedure by which an adult becomes the legal parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. Adoption creates a parent-child relationship recognized for all legal purposes -- including child support obligations, inheritance rights and custody.
adoptive parent
A person who completes all the requirements to legally adopt a child who is not his or her biological child. Generally, any single or married adult who is determined to be a "fit parent" may adopt a child. Some states have special requirements, such as age or residency criteria. An adoptive parent has all the responsibilities of a biological parent.
ADR
See alternative dispute resolution.
adult
In most situations, any person 18 years of age or older.
adultery
Consensual sexual relations by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse. In many states, adultery is technically a crime, though people are rarely prosecuted for it. In states that have retained fault grounds for divorce, adultery is always sufficient grounds for a divorce. In addition, some states alter the distribution of property between divorcing spouses in cases of adultery, giving less to the "cheating" spouse.
advance directive
See living will.
adverse possession
A means by which one can legally take another's property without paying for it. The requirements for adversely possessing property vary between states, but usually include continuous and open use for a period of five or more years and paying taxes on the property in question.
affiant
Someone who signs an affidavit.
affirmative action
Positive or constructive action rather than inaction. Affirmative action programs and regulations attempt to compensate for discriminatory practices that have in the past denied fair consideration to members of minority groups. For example, an all-white government office may take steps to hire people of color. Or, a mostly-male college program may seek to balance its admissions by giving preference to female applicants. Affirmative action programs are controversial in the present political climate -- many have recently been eradicated or have come under attack -- and the subject is likely to be hotly debated for many years to come.
affirmative defense
An explanation for a defendant's actions that excuses or justifies his behavior. For example, acting in self-defense is a common affirmative defense to a charge of battery or homicide. Other affirmative defenses include insanity, duress and intoxication.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
A federal law that prohibits arbitrary discrimination against workers over the age of 40 in any employment decision, especially firing. The ADEA also provides that no worker can be forced to retire.