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Annex II - Glossary of legal terms used in the study

Annex II - Glossary of legal terms used in the study

ABSOLUTE INCAPACITY: Absolute impediment to the exercise of rights and/or the fulfillment of obligations.

ADULT MINORS: Teenagers, usually women over 12 and men over 14. Their status is one of relative incapacity in the eyes of the law, i.e. their acts may have legal force if certain conditions are met, for instance, if authorization is obtained.

CAPACITY OR COMPETENCE: Legal competence to acquire and exercise rights and obligations.

CHATTEL: Movables such as livestock, a car, etc.

COLLATERAL SECURITY: Chattel given as security for a debt. It may be delivered to the creditor or remain in the hands of the debtor.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY REGIME: The system whereby all the property brought to the marriage and all that is subsequently acquired becomes jointly owned. The property is divided equally if the marriage is dissolved.

CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP REGIME, PROPERTY OF: During the marriage each spouse may freely acquire, administer and alienate his or her own property, both contributing to the support of their common family. If the marriage is dissolved, a community of jointly held estate is formed for the purpose of liquidation and division.

CONSTITUTION: A set of fundamental rules for the governance of an organization such as a State.

CONTRACT: Pact or agreement between two or more parties to do or not to do something. A contract may be legally enforceable.

CUSTOM: Usage or body of habits whereby obligations and rights are created and come to have the legal force of law through repetition and through being handed down from one generation to another.

CUSTOMARY LAW: Body of rules practiced through custom and having the force of law.

DECEDENT: The person from whom, and upon whose death, another derives a right or obligation.

DE FACTO UNION: The voluntary agreement between a man and a woman to achieve aims and perform duties similar to those of marriage without fulfilling the legal requirements of a formal marriage.

EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LAW: The consistency between the conduct the law seeks to secure and the actual conduct of the individuals subject to it.

EMANCIPATION: Act or procedure of freeing a person from patria potestas (q.v.).

EXTRAPATRIMONIAL RIGHT: A right which is subjective and not economically quantifiable.

FAMILY ESTATE: A legal institution whereby a dwelling house or piece of real estate is set aside for the habitation and support of the family. The estate may not be seized or alienated, and is transferred by inheritance. Through this legal institution the family is assured that their property may not be bought or sold and that the family group and its economic well-being are safe.

FORCED HEIRS: Persons who may not be left unprovided for in a succession (typically the spouse and the children).

FRUITS: The gains yielded by a thing that becomes the owner's property. These may relate to prices, lease payments, capital interest, as well as those produced by nature.

HEIRS: Persons who by virtue of testament or by law succeed to all or part of an estate, represented by a body of rights and obligations, upon the death of the owner of that estate.

INALIENABLE: That which by nature or by law may not be disposed of or transferred.

INCOMPETENCE OR INCAPACITY: Lack of ability, for physical, mental or legal reasons, to exercise rights and fulfil obligations.

INHERITANCE LAW: Law governing all that has to do with the transfer of a person's property following his or her death.

INTESTATE SUCCESSION: Succession where there is no will or testament.

JOINT PROPERTY: All the property allocated to the common interests of the marriage.

LEGAL CONFLICT: The situation that arises when two or more rules of positive law that should be enforced simultaneously are incompatible or contradictory and cannot be applied.

LEGAL FICTION: Consists in giving an existence or legal validity to something when in reality it has none.

LEGITIM: That part of an estate over which the testator has no power of disposal if there are forced heirs, the latter being always the children and generally the surviving spouse. Some laws include the parents and other ascendants or descendants.

MARITAL AUTHORITY (POTESTAD MARITAL): The body of rights that the law confers on the husband over the person and/or property of the wife.

MARRIAGE REGIME: The body of rules regulating spouses' personal and property interests between them.

MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT: The property agreement made between the spouses before, or at the time of, marriage. It establishes the marriage regime to be adopted.

MORTGAGE: Security in the form of real estate for the performance of an obligation. The real property in question always remains in the hands of the debtor or mortgagor. Should the obligation not be satisfied, the creditor or mortgagee may exact payment from the proceeds of the sale of the mortgaged property.

OBJECTIVE LAW: Body of general rules governing the exercise of rights and obligations.

PATRIA POTESTAS: Body of rights and duties that the law assigns to on the father or mother over the property and person of the minor children.

PATRIMONIAL RIGHT: A right that is economically quantifiable.

POSITIVE LAW: The law in force; the body of laws that have not been repealed.

PRESCRIPTION: The process whereby a person acquires a right or may free himself from an obligation over a period of time.

PROPERTY: Things that can be of use to the individual and are subject to personal appropriation. Property may take the form of chattel or real estate.

REAL PROPERTY: That which cannot be moved, such as land, mines or buildings.

RELATIVE INCAPACITY: Impediment to the exercise of rights and the fulfillment of obligations. The impediment may be overcome if the requisite authorization is obtained.

SEPARATE PROPERTY REGIME: All the property owned before marriage, and acquired by each spouse during the marriage, remains under separate ownership. If the marriage is dissolved, each spouse retains his or her own property.

STATUTE LAW: The body of rules enacted by the legislation of a State.

SUBJECTIVE LAW: Body of rules giving one the faculty to exercise rights.

SUCCESSION: One of the ways in which one or more living persons may acquire control of property from a deceased person. If this occurs by virtue of a will it is known as testamentary succession. If there is no will the term intestate succession is used.

WILL OR TESTAMENT: A legal act by which a person disposes of all or part of his or her property in contemplation of death.

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