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ABSOLUTE DIVORCE: the final ending of a marriage. Both parties are legally free to remarry.

AB INITIO: Latin for "from the beginning".

ACTION: a lawsuit or proceeding in a court of law.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE: this is a document which confirms that another document, such as a summons, writ, or other procedural document has been served by one party to a legal action on the other party. Often it will incorporate an indication that the receiving party intends to contest the issues contained in the original document.

ADVERSE POSSESSION: this is where someone gains rights over or title to land owned by another person by reason of their continued use of the right or land. Sometimes known as "squatters rights", adverse possession takes two principal forms- the acquisition of a right such as a right of way, or the acquisition of an actual title to the land itself. To achieve a title to the land (known as a "possessory title") the occupier must openly occupy the land in question without complaint from the other for a period of time, usually 12 years.

ADMINISTRATOR OF AN ESTATE: the person who manages the distribution of an estate is called an executor if there is a Will. If there is no Will, the person is called the administrator.

AFFIDAVIT: a written statement under oath.

AGREEMENT: a verbal or written resolution of disputed issues.

ANSWER: the written response to a complaint, petition, or motion.

ALIMONY: a payment of support provided by one spouse to the other.

ALIAS SUMMONS: another summons when the original is not served on the defendant.

ANNULMENT: a marriage can be dissolved in a legal proceeding in which the marriage is declared void, as though it never took place. In the eyes of the law, the parties were never married. It is available only under certain limited circumstances.

APPEAL: an appeal is where a party to a case seeks to question the judgment given in a lower court by taking it to a higher court who can, if they see fit, overturn or vary the original judgment.

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