Legal English: “Joint Petition”

In general, a “joint petition” (Pronunciation: JOYNT puh-TIH-shun; Origin: French) is a request made to a court or other authority that is submitted and signed by two or more parties, as opposed to just one. Most commonly, joint petitions are submitted by married couples.

Here are some example sentences that use the phrase:

  • “I’m sorry to hear that you and Tim are going to be getting a divorce. Are you still on good enough terms to file a joint petition and end things cooperatively, or is it going to be a battle?”
  • “It says here that we don’t each have to file our own set of papers to start the bankruptcy. We can just create a joint petition and keep things simple. Do you think we’ll save money by only having to pay a single filing fee?”
  • “Just because your friend is supporting your cause of action doesn’t mean you can file a joint petition. He isn’t relevant to the matter. I’m going to reject this filing and order that you file a proper petition yourself later today. If you fail to submit it, I’m going to dismiss the case.”

Common scenarios in which joint petitions appear are:

  1. at the commencement of bankruptcy cases, when spouses file for bankruptcy together and seek administrative consolidation of their cases, and
  2. in family court, when spouses jointly seek a divorce or child custody arrangement.

These scenarios are not exhaustive, however.

A common reason for filing a joint petition is to avoid fees and costs associated with service or filing of multiple sets of pleadings. Another reason can be to demonstrate solidarity or cooperativeness, although this should not be assumed to be the case. In addition, there are other situations in which filing of a joint petition may be a requirement, as it is for certain immigration matters.

For additional legal english terms and definitions, visit our Legal English category page. Washington University School of Law also offers a legal english course, for those who would like to take their learning further.