Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI)
Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI)

Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI)

Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI)Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI) – We have discussed a great deal of family law terms over the last year or so. Now it is time to take a brief timeout to look back on a some of the more noteworthy concepts.

I do this periodically because it’s not like this is everyday language. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of these terms before, but others are quite complex and not as common. Even after nearly two decades in this profession, even I have to pull out a law book once in a while.

Below is Volume VI of my summary of common family law terms.

The previous five are here as a reference.

January 2016:

May 2016:

August 2016:

October 2016:

January 2017:

Summary of Common Family Law Terms (Vol. VI)

Between those previous five vocabulary blogs, and the 20 terms I have highlighted below, you should have a solid foundation as we move deeper into more complex conversations.

Real Property

Anything that is attached to land, as well as the land itself. This includes a family home (along with any mortgage obligation), a building, unimproved tracts of land, and mineral interests.

Personal Property

If real property is defined as anything attached to land as well as the land itself, than personal property is everything else. What we’re talking about here are bank accounts (shared or individual), insurance policies, furniture, fixtures in the home, and stocks. Other types of personal property can include vehicles, boats and collectibles, antiques, books and pensions.


The net worth of a person at any point in time, alive or dead. It is the sum of a person’s assets – legal rights, interests, and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities.

Fair Market Value

The price a particular piece of property will bring when it is offered for sale. Fair Market Value applies to all forms of real property (residential, commercial, and unimproved, as well as mineral interests). Some property such as cash and bank accounts are easy to put a value on because of their face value. Other forms take a little more work to calculate. This can involve using state-certified and licensed real-estate appraisers to find comparable sales.

Intrinsic Value

In the event a piece of property has no fair market value, such as household goods, clothes and other personal property, the court can use intrinsic value. This is the actual monetary value a property’s use to the owner has, excluding any sentimental considerations.

Establishing a Claim

When a spouse believes the court should be aware of any extenuating circumstances involving the division or confirmation of a particular piece of property, he or she can submit to the court any valid evidence that supports that claim.

Claim for reimbursement

This arises when one marital estate (community or separate) contributes benefits to another estate and the contributing estate wants to be reimbursed for those contributions. An example is when one spouse uses his or her own money to pay off the other spouse’s credit card debt.

Claim for fraud on the community

This is when one spouse is accused of unfairly or improperly disposing of community property. There are two types of fraud on the community: constructive fraud and actual fraud.


This is something that directly contributes to someone’s wealth, including real and personal property.

Just and Right

This refers to the fair split of community property between divorcing spouses. Unlike some states where community property is split evenly between both spouses, Texas is a community property state. Its courts must divide an estate based on what they feel is fair.

Partition in kind

The term “in kind” means that the property is divided, fairly and justly, between the spouses. Depending on the property in question, the court can award property outright to one spouse, divide the property into separate shares, or award joint ownership.

Partition by sale

The court can legally order community property – in this case, real property – be sold so that the proceeds can then be divided between spouses. Usually this happens when it is not possible to do an in-kind partition.


By encumbering separate property, a court is placing an equitable lien on it to secure a benefit the separate property received under a reimbursement claim.

Divorce decree

A court’s final ruling and judgement order making a divorce final. A decree also spells out the terms of the divorce such as support, child custody, division of property, et cetera.


A person who transfers ownership of something (title or property) to someone else.


A person who receives a transfer of ownership from someone else.

Transfer of ownership

In a divorce decree, a court can order the ownership of certain property be transferred from one spouse to another to create a clear ownership change.

Financial instruments

Financial instruments are bank accounts, negotiable notes and annuities.


Securities are tradable financial assets such as stocks, bonds, debentures, derivatives, banknotes, certificate of interest, money market, government bonds, and CDs.

Replacement cost

The cost it would take to replace a piece of property.

Please keep this list handy for your easy reference. If you would like us to discuss a particular family law topic in these blogs, please contact our Nelson Law Group, PC office to let us know. We would love to hear from you.

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Source: Nelson Law Group