Family Court Terminology

Anyone who has worked as a court interpreter knows that Family Court can be one of the most emotionally draining and upsetting settings in which to work. But apart from the often rancorous and emotionally charged proceedings, occasionally we also have to deal with dense legal jargon.

Here is a list of terms that came up in a hearing today that I haven’t used in quite some time. Fortunately, since I’m preparing for a certification exam, I’ve been reviewing and organizing my term bases so I wasn’t completely hung out to dry.

Without looking it up, do you know the expression in your working language(s) for these terms?

  • warning order attorney (In Kentucky, attorneys are appointed solely to attempt to contact the party and inform them of a pending lawsuit)
  • constructive service
  • memorandum of law
  • ex parte
  • express remedy
  • statutory construction
  • statutory criteria
  • waive statutory process

Here are a few other common(ly misused) terms. My working languages are English and Spanish. If you have other working languages, are these words equally tricky?

  • finding (decision, fallo, determinación but not hallazgo)
  • file (a petition) (presentar, entablar, interponer, but, in this instance, not archivar)
  • brief (escrito or escrito de conclusiones, not breve, and documento is too vague)
  • proof (pruebas, not evidencias)
  • argument (argumento if it’s oral, alegato if it’s written)

What are some other situations or settings where you’ve had to scramble to remember the right terminology or expression?

Published by Jason

A freelance interpreter and translator for Spanish with over 25 years of full-time volunteer experience who has been working professionally since 2015, his clients include immigration, state and federal courts as well as private attorneys and research institutions. As a translator, he specializes in the legal, medical, and pharmaceutical fields. He is a member of the American Translators Association and president of the Kentucky Interpreter and Translator Association. He is certified by the states of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio for work in court and legal settings and by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters for work in healthcare settings. Based in the Louisville, Kentucky area, he continues to actively volunteer to serve the Latino community in Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.

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