By Sara Pitcher
Res judicata is a Latin term meaning "a thing adjudicated."
This refers to an issue that has been definitely settled by judicial decision. This bars the same parties from litigating a second lawsuit on the same claim or any other claim arising from the same transaction that could have been but was not raised in the first suit.
There are three essential elements for res judicata:
1.) An earlier decision on the issue;
2.) A final judgment on the merits; and
3.) The involvement of the same parties or parties in privity with the original parties.
The impact of res judicata in family law may be perceived differently than in other areas of law.