Declaratory Judgment Law and Legal Definition

A declaratory judgment is a judgment of a court which determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. By seeking a declaratory judgment, the party making the request is seeking for an official declaration of the status of a matter in controversy. A petition for a declaratory judgment asks the court to define the legal relationship between the parties and their rights with respect to the matter before the court. A declaratory judgment is binding but is distinguished from other judgments or court opinions in that it doesn't provide a method of enforcement.

For example, a party to a contract may seek the legal interpretation of a contract to determine the parties' rights, or an insured may seek a determination of insurance coverage under a policy. In a will contest, a party may seek a declaratory judgment to determine who is entitled to inherit under the will or to define what part of an estate a beneficiary is entitled to receive.