Secret cooperation between two people in order to fool another. Collusion was often practiced by couples before no-fault divorce in order to make up a grounds for divorce (such as adultery). By fabricating a permitted reason for divorce, colluding couples hoped to trick a judge into granting their freedom from the marriage. But a spouse accused of wrongdoing who later changed his or her mind about the divorce could expose the collusion to prevent the divorce from going through.
comfort care
Medical care intended to provide relief from pain and discomfort, such as pain control drugs.
comity of nations
Courtesy between nations that obligates their mutual recognition of each other's laws.
As defined by the Lanham Act, trade that the federal government is authorized to regulate. To qualify for federal trademark protection and registration, a mark must have first been used in commerce. In practice, this means that a product or service must be sold outside of the state in which it originates, be advertised out of state or cater to travelers, such as a hotel, before it can qualify for trademark protection.
commercial frustration
An unforeseen and uncontrollable event that excuses a party to a contract from performing his or her duties under that contract. For example, a landlord can break a lease if the property she agreed to rent accidentally burns down before the tenants move in.
common law marriage
In some states, a type of marriage in which couples can become legally married by living together for a long period of time, representing themselves as a married couple and intending to be married. Contrary to popular belief, the couple must intend to be married and act as though they are for a common law marriage to take effect -- merely living together for a long time won't do it.
community property
A method for defining the ownership of property acquired during marriage, in which all earnings during marriage and all property acquired with those earnings are considered community property and all debts incurred during marriage are community property debts. Community property laws exist in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Compare equitable distribution and separate property.
community property with right of survivorship
A way for married couples to hold title to property, available in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin. It allows one spouse's half-interest in community property to pass to the surviving spouse without probate.
comparable rectitude
A doctrine that grants the spouse least at fault a divorce when both spouses have shown grounds for divorce. It is a response to an old common-law rule that prevented a divorce when both spouses were at fault.
competent evidence
Legally admissible evidence. Competent evidence tends to prove the matter in dispute. In a murder trial, for example, competent evidence might include the murder weapon with the defendant's fingerprints on it.
For copyright purposes, a work formed by selecting and assembling preexisting materials (generally facts or data unprotected by copyright) in a unique way to form an original work of authorship. A database is a good example of a compilation. A compilation must have some creative aspects -- such as the way it is organized and the materials selected for inclusion -- to qualify for copyright protection. For example, a list of favorite Web sites including the word "gelatin," arranged by category, would be rather creative, while a phone directory would not.
Papers filed with a court clerk by the plaintiff to initiate a lawsuit by setting out facts and legal claims (usually called causes of action). In some states and in some types of legal actions, such as divorce, complaints are called petitions and the person filing is called the petitioner. To complete the initial stage of a lawsuit, the plaintiff's complaint must be served on the defendant, who then has the opportunity to respond by filing an answer. In practice, few lawyers prepare complaints from scratch. Instead they use -- and sometimes modify -- pre-drafted complaints widely available in form books.
comprehensive insurance coverage
An element of car insurance that pays for damages to your vehicle caused by anything other than a collision, including vandalism, theft and natural disasters.
See eminent domain.
conditions of carriage
The terms of your contract with an airline after you buy a ticket. Conditions of carriage cover everything from baggage limitations to the amount of compensation you can recover if you're injured on the flight. These provisions often vary from airline to airline. A few, but by no means most, conditions of carriage appear in the fine print on the back of your ticket. To find out about the rest, you can ask the airline for a copy; it is legally obligated to provide one. The conditions of carriage contain a lot of fine print detail and will not make for exciting reading.