Grandparent holding grandchild hand

Exploring Legal Options - Tips for Grandfamilies Learning Lesson

Glossary of Terms

  • Allocation of Parental Rights or Custody: Although the public tends to use the common term of “custody,” some states no longer use this term. Another phrase used is, “allocation of parental responsibility and decision making.” This is the legal authority to make decisions about a minor child.
  • Child Protection Services: a department that exists within the Department of Human Service (or Social Services). Caseworkers from this department respond to calls made to the Child Protection Hotline where a child’s safety maybe in jeopardy. In other words, if there is a report a child being emotionally or physically harmed in any way a CPS caseworker will meet with parents and children to evaluate the safety concern.
  • Court: The place where justice is administered; A judicial body or a meeting of a judicial body.
  • Courtroom: A room in which a court of law is held.
  • Dismissal: An order by the court terminating the proceedings. If the case is dismissed “without prejudice,” the case could be refiled. If the dismissal is “with prejudice,” the matters and issues are resolved and cannot be the subject of subsequent litigation.
  • Guardianship: A legal relationship created when a person named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of minor children.
  • Hearings: A listening to arguments; A session in which testimony is taken from witnesses.
  • Judge: A public officer (who is also an attorney) appointed by the Governor (in state court) or by the President (in federal court) to preside and to administer the law in a court.
  • Lawyer: One who conducts lawsuits for clients or advises as to legal rights and obligations in other matters.
  • Magistrate: A person with limited judicial authority, appointed to hear and decide cases. A magistrate’s decision is equally enforceable with a judge’s decision, but the scope of the magistrate’s authority is narrower in certain respects.
  • Mediation: A way of settling a dispute, which includes a third person, who is neutral and attempts to get both sides to reach an agreement. Mediation is often used in family and juvenile court and may be used in other disputes, whether or not the court is involved.
  • Other Witnesses: A person who is present and personally perceives a thing (beholder, spectator, eyewitness). A person who testifies regarding what he or she has seen, heard, or otherwise observed. Advisory: The witness counsel chooses to sit at the counsel table for consultation purposes; Expert: Persons, who because of special training, skill, experience, or knowledge, are competent to state conclusions or give opinions; Adverse: Parties to the action who may be called for cross-examination in civil actions by opposing counsel during the presentation of the opposing parties’ cases; Hostile: A witness who manifests hostility or prejudice during direct examination to such a degree that the party who has called the witness is allowed to ask the witness leading questions as in cross-examination.
  • Party: A person or group concerned in an action or affair.
  • Papers: Printed or written documents.
  • “Pro se”: When a party participates in a court case without legal counsel and represents himself or herself.
  • Pro Bono: Work that is done without compensation or payment.
  • Recorded: A written account of proceedings.
  • Rules of Evidence: The exercise of authority or control over a fact presented before a court, such as a statement of a witness, an object, etc., that bears on or establishes a point in question.
  • Statement/Testimony: A statement made under oath by a witness or a party to establish a fact.
  • “Swear or Affirm”: To make a solemn statement or promise under oath; To make a solemn and formal declaration or assertion in place of an oath.
  • Transcription Machine: Used to write or type a copy of dictated or recorded matter.