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See your Summary Plan Description for a complete description of the definitions for each of the items listed below.

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Cooperating Attorney - An attorney in private practice who has contracted with the Legal Services Fund to represent members.

Covered Matter - A legal matter covered by the Legal Services Fund.

Eligible Member or Dependent - A person who has satisfied the eligibility requirements for coverage under the Legal Services Fund for which their employer is obligated to contribute on their behalf (See applicable Summary Plan Description "SPD"). Your covered dependent(s) include your eligible spouse and dependent children. Refer to your SPD for specific eligibility requirements including residency and age limitations.

Legal Services Fund - The Building Service 32BJ Legal Services Fund ("Legal Services Fund") or the 32BJ North Legal Services Fund ("North Legal Services Fund").

(Legal Services) Fund Attorney (Lawyer) - An attorney employed by the Legal Services Fund or a Cooperating Attorney.

Litigation Expenses - Expenses related to a Legal Services Fund covered matter such as court and agency filing fees. The Legal Services Fund may be able to provide assistance with the payment of these expenses. See your SPD for a complete description of your coverage regarding Litigation Expenses.

Summary Plan Description("SPD") - The plan document containing information about the Building Service 32BJ Legal Services Fund or 32BJ North Legal Services Fund benefits.


Legal Matters and Terms

See your Summary Plan Description for a description of the coverage provided to you by the Legal Services Fund for each of the items listed below.

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Administrative Agency Matters - Legal matters brought before a city, state or federal agency, such as School Suspension hearings, Public Utility hearings, or advice regarding Social Security Survivor’s or Retirement Benefits.

Adoption - When a child's parents have died, when the parents cannot continue to provide for the care or custody of their child, or when the parents' right to continue having responsibility for the care and custody of their child has been terminated by the court, the child may be "adopted". In an adoption, the biological parents' rights are terminated, and the court gives permanent legal responsibility for the child to other persons who then become the child's parents. A Fund lawyer will represent the member in the adoption of a child and the Legal Services Fund will represent your spouse only in a Joint Petition with the member.

Annulment - Court order declaring a marriage never legally commenced or existed.

Appeal - When a party loses a case or proceeding, they often have the right to "appeal" to a higher court or administrative body. A Fund lawyer will represent you in an appeal from a final judgment or order in an action where you have been represented by a Fund attorney at the hearing or trial and where, in the judgment of the Director of the Legal Services Fund, your position on appeal has merit, based on the applicable law and material evidence in the record of your case.

Asylum - Immigration status granted to foreign nationals because they have suffered persecution or fear they will suffer persecution due to: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Bankruptcy - A person in debt may be eligible to apply for a discharge of certain debts, which may prevent collection of the debts. If personal bankruptcy seems appropriate for you and provided the debt does not arise from your business, investment or professional venture, your Legal Services Fund lawyer will assist you in submitting a Bankruptcy Petition to the Court.

Child Abuse/Neglect - When it appears that a child less than eighteen (18) years of age has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, a petition may be filed by a child-protective agency asking a Court to assist in protecting the child.

Child Support - An order from a court directing a parent to pay financial support for their child or children. A child is entitled to be financially supported by his or her parents until emancipation. Emancipation means the parent or parents are no longer responsible for the financial support of their child or children.

Custody - An order of custody gives responsibility for the care, control and maintenance of a child to one or both of the child's parents or to another party.

Criminal Cases - A person accused of a crime is generally charged with a felony for serious crimes or a violation or misdemeanor for less serious crimes. When a court determines that an individual committed a crime, that person will receive a sentence. The sentence may be an order to pay a monetary penalty (a fine), imprisonment, community service, or any other penalty allowable by law.
A Fund lawyer will represent you in criminal matters involving violations, misdemeanors and/or felonies which carry a jail sentence and for which the maximum sentence is seven years or less in criminal court or federal court.

Debt Cases - A debt is an amount of money you owe to a person, bank, company or other entity. A Fund Lawyer may represent you when you allegedly owe money to a merchant arising from the purchase of goods or services, or arising from borrowing money from an institutional lender. A Fund Lawyer will represent you in court when you have a valid and provable defense.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") - Temporary immigration status granted for a set period of time for individuals who came to the US as children and meet other key requirements.

Divorce - A Court order ending a marriage.

Estate - An estate is the sum of a person's assets - legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind - less all liabilities. A Fund Lawyer will advise you regarding the administration of a small estate (i.e. assets low enough to qualify for your state’s expedited estate proceeding) of an eligible person who dies leaving a will, or without leaving a will, and will advise in preparing the necessary papers.

Felony - A serious crime as defined by a state that could result in a fine, probation or jail time.
See your SPD for a complete description of your coverage for Criminal proceedings.

Guardian - A guardian is a person or an agency the Court gives authority to take responsibility for the care of a child or adult and/or their property. A Fund Lawyer will represent you (but not your spouse or dependent) where warranted in your application to be appointed a guardian of the person and/or property of a spouse, child or parent, except where there are substantial assets as the proceeds of a personal injury case.

Health Care Proxy - A document appointing a person you designate to express your wishes regarding medical care and treatment and make health care decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

Misdemeanor - A crime as defined by a state which is less serious than a felony and could result in a sentence of community service, a fine, probation or jail time.

Naturalization - Process by which United States citizenship is granted to a permanent resident after the fulfillment of certain requirements.

Name Change - A person who wants to change their legal name usually can do so by means of a Court proceeding.

Paternity - When a child is born to parents who are not married to each other, the biological father is not considered to be the child's legal parent. The biological father needs to sign an acknowledgment declaring himself to be the child's father, or needs to have an order declaring him to be the father entered by the Court.

Permanent resident - Immigration status of a person authorized to live and work in the United States (“green card”). A Fund lawyer will represent you, your spouse and your dependent children in an application to become a permanent resident.

Power of Attorney - A formal legal document giving someone you trust the power to deal with your finances and legal matters. This document can remain in effect even if the person who signed it becomes physically or mentally incompetent.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement (also called Ante-Nuptial Agreement) - A written agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage result in annulment or divorce.

Relative Petitions - Petition filed for a family member to obtain permanent residence. A Fund lawyer will represent you in Relative Petitions for your spouse and dependent children. A Fund lawyer will also represent you and your spouse to petition for up to a total of four additional relatives, not including your spouse or dependent children (two additional if you are covered by the North Legal Services Fund).

Separation Agreement - When a married couple decides to live apart without getting divorced and they make an agreement to resolve all issues involving their separation.

Spousal Support - A married person may file a petition in Court seeking financial support from a current husband or wife.

Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") - Temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries.

Violation - A minor crime usually resulting in a fine.

Visitation - A parent seeking to visit with a child may file a petition in Court against the person or persons who has custody of the child. Other family members, such as grandparents or siblings, may also file a petition seeking an order of visitation.

Will - A formal written document which sets forth your wishes regarding distribution of your property in the event of your death. A Fund lawyer will prepare a simple (does not include trusts, estate or tax planning) will for the member and their eligible spouse.