Family Law Glossary
Magistrate: A person who performs the functions of a judge but does not have the power to issue a court order. Judges sometimes pass work, hearings and trials, to magistrates or masters who then in turn make recommendations to the judge as to the particulars of the case.
Maintenance: The same as spousal support or alimony.
Marital Property: Marital property is defined as all assets acquired during the marriage and prior to the date of separation. All marital property is subject to fair distribution between the marital partners. However, in NC, this right to equitable distribution is not automatic, so one or both spouses must specifically claim it prior to a divorce judgment.
Marital Settlement Agreement: A written agreement entered into by the spouses getting divorced stating their rights and agreements pertaining to property, support and custody.
Marketable Title: A title not subject to reasonable doubt or suspicion of invalidity in the mind of a reasonable and intelligent person: one which a prudent person guided by competent legal advice would be willing to accept and purchase at market value.
Master: Hears cases like a judge. A master's decision is reviewed by a judge before becoming final.
Mediation: A non-adversarial divorce procedure where the spouses are assisted in reaching a settlement by a neutral third party that is trained in the divorce process.
Mediator: A neutral person who presides over the mediation process.
Military Allotment: A deduction from child support from the salary of a non-custodial parent on active duty in the United States military.
Minor: Someone under the age of majority. In NC, a minor is defined as anyone who has not reached the age of 18.
Minute Order: An official record of a court proceeding. It is prepared by the court clerk and is not a judgment.
Mistrial: A trial that is terminated due to some kind of error that would declare the trial invalid.
Modification: An order changing the terms of another order.
Motion to Modify: A written request to the court asking to change a previous order regarding child custody, support, alimony or other divorce related decisions.
Motion: An application to the court requesting an order or rule in favor of the applicant.