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An omission to do or perform some work, duty, or act.
As used by U.S. courts, the term neglect denotes the failure of responsibility on the part of defendants or attorneys. Neglect is related to the concept of Negligence, but its rather limited use in the law sets it apart from that much broader doctrine. Generally speaking, neglect means omitting or failing to do something that is required. Neglect is often related to timeliness: examples include the failure of a taxpayer to file a timely income tax return and the failure of an attorney to meet a deadline for filing an appeal. In determining whether to rule against a party, courts consider the reason for the neglect, which can range from unavoidable accidents and hindrances to the less acceptable extreme of carelessness and indifference to duty.
Special terminology applies to some forms of neglect. Culpable neglect exists where a loss arises from an individual's carelessness, improvidence, or folly. Willful neglect applies to marital cases; it refers to the neglect of one spouse, historically the husband, to provide such essentials as food, shelter, and clothing to the other spouse, either because of refusal or indifference. Excusable neglect is used to grant exceptions in cases where neglect was the consequence of accident, unavoidable hindrance, reliance on legal counsel, or reliance on promises made by the adverse party. Excusable neglect can serve as the basis for a motion to vacate a judgment, as in the case of explaining why a deadline for filing an appeal could not be met. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, excusable neglect authorizes a court to permit an act to be done after the official deadline has expired (Fed. R. Civ. P. 6 (b)).