What is the legal meaning of "de facto"

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In fact, in deed, actually. This phrase is used to characterize an officer, a government, a past action, or a state of affairs which exists actually and must be accepted for all practical purposes, but which is illegal or illegitimate. In this sense it is the contrary of de jure, which means rightful. legitimate, just, or constitutional.

Thus, an officer, king, or government de facto is one who is in actual possession of the office or supreme power, but by usurpation, or v.-ill-respect to lawful title; while an officer, king, or governor de jure is one who has just claim and rightful title to the office or power, but who has never had plenary possession of the same, or is not now in actual possession. 4 Bl. Comm. 77, 78.

So a wife de facto is one whose marriage is voidable by decree, as distinguished from a wife de jure, or lawful wife. 4 Kent, Comm. 30. But the term is also frequently used independently of any distinction from de jure; thus a blockade de facto is a blockade which is actually maintained, as distinguished from a mere paper blockade.

As to de facto “Corporation,” “Court,” “Domicile,” “Government,” and “Officer,” see those titles. In old English law. De facto means respecting or concerning the principal act of a murder, which was technically denominated factum. See Fleta, lib. 1, c. 27,

(see Law Dictionary: What is DE FACTO? definition of DE FACTO (Black’s Law Dictionary)

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