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What does "Et Vir" Mean?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

Et vir means "and man" in Latin and "and husband" when it’s used in legal documents to refer to the husband of a woman. A party who wants to include an unidentified husband in a lawsuit as a defendant or wants to file a lawsuit with a husband but keep her name confidential will often use the legal term et vir following the defendant’s legal name. For example, the case XYZ Credit Card Company V. Williams, Kathy, ET VIR will include Kathy’s spouse even though he was not specified by his legal name. It’s also used on deeds to indicate property ownership belonging to both the husband and wife, even though the husband’s legal name is not listed. The opposite is et aux or et auxor, which means and wife in Latin.

The principle behind the legal term et vir is that a husband and wife are one person under the law. When used in a case caption, it’s used to indicate that the wife and her husband are represented as one in the case, either as plaintiffs or defendants. The legal remedy that the courts use to settle the case will apply to both the husband and wife. If the couple wins a case and receives an award or injunctive relief, then both the husband and the wife will often receive the benefits. Some jurisdictions have abandoned this concept and adopted other legal principles to describe the common interests of the husband and wife, such as joint tenancy in real property law.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

There are many documents, in addition to court cases, where et vir is used. It’s commonly used in documents related to property ownership and real estate transactions, such as a deed. Other documents include tax assessment rolls and abstracts of titles. It’s also used to indicate that both spouses share in an obligation, such as in a lien or debt. For example, a creditor is most likely to include the legal name of the husband when filing a UCC financing statement instead of the legal term et vir.

The use of et vir on real estate documents is not common in modern day practices, and the husband’s legal name is often included on the deed, debt instrument, or other document. The reason is that divorce proceedings and legal separation can complicate ownership interests and obligations if the husband is not identified. Creditors often prefer to record the husband’s name along with an identification number, such as a social security number.

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