Legal Terms and Protections

Legal Terms and Protections

Below are relevant legal terms from Black’s Law Dictionary regarding protections we should have received but did not – actions from which single mothers were not protected.

The United States Constitution, Article VII, Amendment XIV, Section 1 states:

“…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


Compelled to compliance; constrained to obedience, or submission…
Compelling by force… may be actual, direct… as where one party is constrained by subjugation to another to do what [her] free will would refuse…


Without will or power of choice; opposed to volition or desire. An involuntary act is which is performed with constraint, or with repugnance, or without the will to do it. An action is involuntary, then, which is performed under duress, force, or coercion.


An implied trust which arises because the law imposes trust-like consequences on certain transactions where an agent breaches his *fiduciary duty…


A duty to act for someone else’s benefit, while subordinating one’s personal interests to that of the other person. It is the highest standard of duty implied by law. (E.g., trustee, guardian)


Coercion used by a person to induce another to act (or refrain from acting) in a manner [she] otherwise would not (or would). Subjecting person to improper pressure which overcomes [her] will and coerces [her]to comply with demand to which [she] would not yield if acting as free agent.

A contact entered into under duress by physical compulsion is void. Also, if a party’s manifestation of assent to a contract is induced by an improper threat by the other party that leaves the victim no reasonable alternative, the contract is voidable by the victim.


Defense of economic duress, or business compulsion, arises where one individual, acting upon another’s fear of impending financial injury, unlawfully coerces the latter to perform an act in circumstances which prevent [her] exercise of free will.


Persuasion, pressure, or influence short of actual force, but stronger than mere advice, that so overpowers the dominated party’s free will or judgment that [she] cannot act intelligently and voluntarily, but acts, instead, subject to the will or purposes of the dominating party.

… urgency of persuasion whereby the will of a person is overpowered and [she] is induced to do or forbear an act which [she] would not do or would do if left to act freely… Misuse of position of confidence or taking advantage of a person’s weakness, infirmity, or distress to change improperly that person’s actions or decisions.

…conduct by which a person, through his power over mind of testator, makes the latter’s desires conform to his own, thereby overmastering the volition of the testator… For purposes of executing instruments, such exists when there was such dominion and control exercised over mind of person executing such instruments, under facts and circumstances then existing, as to overcome [her] free agency and free will and to substitute will of another so as to cause [her] to do what [she] would not otherwise have done but for such dominion and control.

…The Code of Professional Responsibility and Model Rules of Professional Conduct set forth standards for actual or potential conflicts of interest between attorney and client. Generally, when used to suggest disqualification of a public official from performing his sworn duty, term “conflict of interest” refers to a clash between public interest and the private **pecuniary interest of the individual concerned.


A direct interest related to money in an action or case.


A person’s agreement to allow something to happen that is based on a full disclosure of facts needed to make the decision intelligently.


In a general sense, any violation or omission of a legal or moral duty… the neglect or failure to fulfill in a just and proper manner the duties of an office or fiduciary employment. Every violation by a trustee of a duty which equity lays upon him, whether willful and fraudulent, or done through negligence or arising through mere oversight or forgetfulness, is a breach of duty.


Any act done by a trustee contrary to the terms of his trust, or in excess of his authority and to the detriment of the trust; or the wrongful omission by a trustee of any act required of him by the terms of the trust… every violation by a trustee of a duty which equity lays upon him, whether willful and fraudulent, or done through negligence and arising through mere oversight and forgetfulness, is a ‘breach of trust’… every omission and commission in carrying out the trust according to its terms, of care and diligence in protecting… and of using perfect ‘good faith’… A violation by the trustee of any duty which he owes to the beneficiary.


The opposite of “good faith,” general implying or involving actual or constructive fraud, or a design to mislead or deceive another, or a neglect or refusal to fulfill some duty or some contractual obligation, not prompted by an honest mistake as to one’s rights or duties, but by some interested or sinister motive. Term “Bad faith” is not simply bad judgment or negligence, but rather it implies the conscious doing of a wrong because of dishonest purpose and moral obliquity; it is different from the negative idea of negligence in that it contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or ill will.