Common Law Marriage

In a common law marriage, the couple lives together for a prescribed period of time, but never participates in a lawful marriage ceremony. Common law marriages cannot be created in Maryland.

Family Use Personal Property

Tangible personal property owned by one or both spouses that has been acquired during a marriage and is used primarily for family purposes. Items such as motor vehicles, furniture, furnishings, and household appliances could be family use personal property. Items acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party, or items the spouses specifically exclude by a valid agreement, would not be family use personal property.

Marital Property

The property acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage, however titled. Property acquired before the marriage, acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party, excluded by a valid agreement, or directly traceable to any of these sources, is not marital property. Pensions and business interests acquired by the spouse during the marriage are marital property.

Body Attachment

A written order issued by a court directing a sheriff or peace officer to take custody of and bring before the court a witness who does not comply with a subpoena, a material witness in a criminal action, or a party in a civil action who fails to comply with an order of court.

Burden of proof

In a cause of action, the necessity or duty of affirmatively proving a fact in dispute between the parties by establishing the requisite degree of belief concerning a fact in the mind of the trier of fact.


The place that a person intends to be his or her permanent residence.

Ex parte

Ex parte means done for, on behalf of, or on the application of, one party only. A judicial proceeding is said to be ex parte when it is held for one party without notice to, or contestation by, the party representing the other side.

Foreign Marriage

A marriage ceremony performed outside of Maryland in which one or both of the parties were or are citizens of Maryland.


The legal authority which a court has over particular persons, certain types of cases, and in defined geographical areas.

Long Arm Statute

A law permitting the State to claim personal jurisdiction over someone who lives in another State.

Notice of Lis Pendens

A notice filed on public records for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation, and that they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.


An assumption of fact resulting from a rule of law which requires such fact to be assumed from another fact or group of facts found or otherwise established.

Statute of Limitations

A law which fixes the time within which parties must take judicial action to enforce rights.

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