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FAQs

Glossary

These definitions may help you understand family law terms but are not legal definitions.  For a legal definition of these terms, you may wish to consult a lawyer.

Abduction: When someone, including a parent, removes a child under 16 without permission from a parent with decision-making responsibility. (Enlèvement)

Adjournment: Postponing a Court proceeding to a later date. Usually done with the Court’s permission. (Ajournement)

Affidavit:  a written statement that is signed and sworn or affirmed before a commissioner of oaths. (Affidavit)

Affirmation: a solemn declaration or promise to tell the truth, made by a person in place of taking an oath on a religious object. (Affirmation)

Age of majority: The age when a person is legally an adult. The age of majority in New Brunswick is 19. If a child normally lives outside Canada, their age of majority is presumed to be 18. (Majorité)

Annual income: the amount of money a person earns from all sources, including employment, self-employment and investments. (Revenu annuel)

Appeal: The process of asking a superior Court to review and change a judge’s decision. (Appel)

Appellant: the person/party who appeals the decision. (Appelant/appelante)

Applicant: a person who makes an application to the Court. (Requérant/requérante)

Arrears: The amount of money a person owes when they fall behind on their child support or spousal support payments. (Arriéré)

“Best interests of the child”:  When the Court makes decisions about parenting orders, contact orders, parenting arrangements, or decision-making responsibility, it will consider what is in the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child is the only thing the Court will consider in these decisions. Anyone who has parenting time, decision-making responsibility or contact must act in the best interests of the child. For information on what factors can be included when considering the best interests of the child, see PLEIS-NB’s Terminology Chart. (Intérêt de l’enfant)

Case law: The law based on decisions by judges. Case law reflects how the Courts interpret legislation and other written laws. (Jurisprudence)

Child:  a person who is under the age of majority.  Under the New Brunswick Family Law Act, a child is an unmarried person under the age of 19. (Enfant)

Child of the marriage: The Divorce Act defines a child of the marriage as “a child of two former spouses.” The term applies to both birth and adoptive children. It may also include children of one spouse for whom the other spouse acted “in place of a parent”. It may also include children who have reached the age of majority but are dependent on their parents. (Enfant à charge)

Child Support:  parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children.  A parent without the majority of parenting time can pay child support to the parent with the majority of parenting time to help provide for the child.  Parents can arrange these payments by agreement or by Court order. See PLEIS-NB’s pamphlet on Child Support. (Aliments pour enfant)

Commissioner of Oaths:  a person who can administer an oath. (Commissaire à la prestation des serments)

Contempt of Court:  A judge can declare someone in contempt of Court if they fail to comply with an order of a Court, interfere with the administration of justice, or ignore the Rules of Court.  (Outrage au tribunal

Costs:  legal costs, whether the actual amount of costs or an amount decided following the Court of Queen's Bench Rules. (Frais)

Court: The Judge; a judicial tribunal; the place where justice is administered. (Tribunal)

Court Order:  a legally binding document made by a Court and signed by a judge. (Ordonnance du tribunal)

Decision-Making Responsibility: the responsibility for making significant decisions about a child’s well-being, including:

a)    health (like whether to undergo a medical procedure)

b)    education (like choice of school)

c)    culture, language, religion, and spirituality (like which faith the child will follow, if any)

d)    significant extra-curricular activities (meaning activities that require a large investment of the parent’s time or financial resources) (Responsabilité décisionnelle)

Divorce:  the legal end of a marriage. (Divorce)

Divorce Act: The federal law that sets out the rules for legally ending a marriage. (Loi sur le divorce)

Exhibit:  A document or object, formally introduced as evidence in Court. Exhibits are often attached to an affidavit as evidence, and titling them (e.g. “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B”) helps organize and label evidence. (Pièce)

Family Division, Court of Queen’s Bench:  the provincial Court that hears all family law issues in New Brunswick. (Division de la famille de la Cour du Banc de la Reine)

Federal Child Support Guidelines: The regulations under the Divorce Act that tell you how much child support to pay. See the Child Support Guidelines Step-by-Step. The Tables in the guidelines show the basic amount of child support someone should pay based on their income. The Guidelines include a table that show how much child support you should pay based on your income and your province. (Lignes directrices fédérales sur les pensions alimentaires pour enfants)

Filing documents: Giving documents to a Court to make them part of a legal process/proceeding. Sometimes requires payment of a filing fee or charge. (Dépôt de documents)

Financial Statement: A Court document that sets out a person's financial information in a detailed and specific way. (État financière)

Habitually Resident:  A child is habitually resident in the place where the child last lived either:

a) with both parents, 

b) with one parent under a separation agreement, a Court order or with the implied consent of the other, or

c) with a person other than a parent on a permanent basis for a significant period of time. (Résidence habituelle)

Hearing:  a Court proceeding:  the presentation of evidence in Court to determine an issue or answer a question. (Audience)

Imputing income: If a judge feels that the amount of income a parent claims is not a fair reflection of their income, they can attribute (impute) income to that person. For example, the Court may attribute income where a parent receives a lot of their money as tips, which doesn’t appear on financial reports, or where a parent refuses to share income information with the Court to calculate child support. For more information see https://legaldictionary.net/imputed-income/ (Revenu imputé)

Interim Order:  a Court order that only lasts until there is a final decision in the case. (Ordonnance provisoire)

Joint or Shared Decision-Making Responsibility: where parents share the responsibility to make major decisions for the child, regardless of who the child lives with. (Responsabilité décisionnelle conjointe ou divisée)

Joint or Shared Parenting time: when parents share an equal or close to equal amount of time being responsible for the child. This often means that each parent is responsible for the children at least 40 percent of the time. (Temps parental conjoint ou partagé)

Judgment:  the decision of the Court in a legal proceeding. (Jugement)

Legal Aid:  a program where lawyers help low-income people with some family law matters. (Aide juridique)

Marriage:  The legal state of being married. Although sometimes the law treats people who live together the same as married people, you are never married until you go through a legal marriage ceremony and register the marriage through Vital Statistics. (Mariage)

Mediation:  a way to settle legal matters through negotiation with the help of a third person. The purpose of mediation is to help people work out an agreement more constructively. (Médiation)

Motion:  a procedure involving filing documents with the Court and attending a hearing where a party asks the Court to decide on a certain question before, during or after the main Court proceeding. (Requête)

Oath:  a legally binding promise to tell the truth made by swearing on the Bible or other religious document or item like the Koran or a sacred eagle feather. A person who does not want to swear on a religious document makes an affirmation.  This is as legally binding as an oath. (Serment)

Parent:  a mother, father, another official guardian, or a person with whom the child lives who has shown an intention to treat the child as his or her family. (Parent)

Parenting Order: An order involving children which may outline parenting time and decision-making responsibility. made under the Divorce Act or Family Law Act about the parenting of children. Both spouses, a parent, or any person who currently has or is seeking a parental role in the life of a child may apply for a parenting order. (Ordonnance parentale)

Parenting plan: describes how parents who don’t live together will care for and make important decisions about their children. Parents can agree to any type of parenting arrangement but should focus on what is in the best interests of their children. (Plan parental)

Parenting Time: the periods of time when a person is primarily responsible for the child(ren), including when they are in school or daycare. (Temps parental)

Party:  The people or organizations directly involved by name in a Court case, contract, agreement, or another legal matter. In most family law cases, both partners/spouses are parties, but the children are not. The person who filed a Court action is usually called the Applicant, or Petitioner; the person opposing the Court action is usually called the Respondent. (Partie)

Perjury:  to tell a lie in Court after swearing to tell the truth.  It is a crime. (Parjure)

Proceedings:  any matter, criminal or civil, which goes to Court. (Procédure)

Respondent: the person who receives and responds to a Notice of Application or motion; when someone makes an application to the Court, they file the application against Respondent by name. Only the Respondent(s) can reply to the Notice of Application. (Intimé)

Separation Agreement:  a written agreement between spouses who intend to live apart.  It can include arrangements for decision-making responsibility and parenting time, spousal and child support payments, and other matters. (Entente de séparation)

Serving documents: Delivering Court documents to another person, using a specific method following the Court of Queen's Bench Rules. (Signification des documents)

Sole decision-making responsibility: an arrangement where only one parent has the legal right and responsibility to provide for the day-to-day care of the child, and to make the decisions about the child’s upbringing. (Responsabilité décisionnelle exclusive)

Special expenses:  Special or extraordinary expenses are expenses that the Child Support Guidelines table amounts (Child Support) may not cover. Special expenses must be necessary for the child's best interests and reasonable given the means of the parents and the family's spending pattern before the separation.  These expenses could include day-care expenses, expenses for postsecondary education, or orthodontic expenses. (Dépenses spéciaux )

Split parenting time: Split parenting time describes an arrangement where each parent is separately responsible for at least one of their children the majority of the time. (Temps parental divisé)

Spousal Support:  the money that a spouse or a common law partner receives from a separated spouse or partner to help pay for living expenses when the couple has separated or divorced. (Pension alimentaire pour conjoint ou conjointe)

Spouse:  a legally married person but not common law partners in general. (Époux/épouse)

Summons:  a Court form (Form 55A) that tells a person when and where they must appear in Court. (Assignation)

Supervised Parenting time:  where the parent without parenting time can only visit the child in the presence of the parent the child lives with or another adult. (Temps parental supervisé)

Support Order:  a Court order to pay spousal support or child support. (Ordonnance alimentaire)

Testimony:  statements made by a witness under oath in Court. (Témoignage)

Trial: A judicial examination and determination of issues between parties before a judge, with or without a jury. (Procès)

Uncontested hearing: A hearing in Court where no one opposes or disagrees with what is asked for. (Audience non contestée)

Undue hardship: In general, undue hardship refers to excessive financial difficulties, for example high costs to travel and spend time with the children or taking on most of the marital debt after separation. Under the Child Support Guidelines, either parent may ask for a different child support amount at a higher or lower level if the parent or the child is experiencing undue hardship. For information on how undue hardship applications are assessed, see this portion of the Child Support Guidelines Step-by-Step. (Difficultés excessives)

Variation order: A Court order that changes some or all of the terms of an existing order. (Ordonnance modificative)

Viva voce: evidence given by word of mouth; orally. (Vive voix)

Witness:  a person who testifies in Court because he or she has some information about the case. (Témoin)

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