New York Courts dot gov
New York StateUnified Court System

Family Court


Glossary

Common Family Court Terms

The following is a list of words or phrases you should be familiar with if you find yourself involved in an action in Family Court:

A - F | G - O | P - Z

Adjournment

 

To temporarily postpone or reschedule the proceedings of a case until a future time.
Affidavit
  A sworn or affirmed statement made in writing and signed.
Appearance
  When a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court.
Assigned Counsel
  An attorney assigned by the court to represent a defendant who has failed to appear in court as directed.
Bench Warrant
  An order issued by the court for an arrest of a defendant who has failed to appear in court as directed.
Default
  When a party fails to answer or appear in the proscribed time period.
Deposition
  Written testimony of a witness who may not be present in court.
Discovery
  Where one party obtains information or facts about the action pursuant to statutory rules.
Dismissal
  An order by the court ending an action for a specified reason. A dismissal permits a party to institute the same action again.
back to top
Garnishment
  A method of satisfying an outstanding debt or judgment by seizing property or credits of the debtor held by a thrid party.
Guardianship
  A legal arrangement by which one person (a guardian) has the legal right and duty to care for another and his or her property.
Guardian Ad Litem
  A person appointed by the court to look after the interests of an infant or an incompetent.
Income Execution
  A method to satisfy a judgment by levying a portion of the defendant's wages.
Interrogatories
  Written questions proffered by one side which must be answered in writing by the other side as part of the discovery process in an action.
Juvenile Offender
  A 13, 14 or 15 year old charged with acts constituting murder in the second degree or a 14 or 15 year old charged with acts constituting certain serious offenses enumerated in the criminal code.
Motion
  An oral or written request made by a party to the court for specific relief.
Negligence
  The failure to do something that a reasonable person guided by ordinary considerations would do, or something a reasonably prudent person would not do.
Order to Show Cause
  A court order to appear as directed and present to the court such reasons why a particular decree should not be made.
back to top
Petitioner
  The party initiating a proceeding or the party bringing an appeal to a higher court.
Pro Se
  Appearing on one's own behalf without an attorney.
Respondent
  (a) The defending party in a proceeding; (b) the party against whom an appeal is taken.
Statute
  A formal rule of law enacted by a government body.
Stipulation
  An agreement by adversaries as to any matter pertaining to the proceedings or trial. Must be assented to by the parties and in writing.
Subpoena
  A process by which a person is compelled to appear and give testimony before a court.
Subpoena Duces Tecum
  Process by which a person is compelled to appear and give testimony before a court.
Summons
  A process issued by a local court directing a person to appear before it at a designated future time in connection with a particular proceeding.
Transcript
  The official record of a proceeding.
Vacate
  To set aside a previous action.
Youthful Offender (Y.O.)
  A person who is sentenced for an offense that occurred when the person was 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 years old.
9th Judicial District