AbatementTo reduce, diminish or temporarily suspend.
ADC or AFICAbbreviation for Aid to Families with Dependant Children. Replaced by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Financial Independence Program (FIP).
AdjournmentThe postponing or putting off of a case or session of court until another time or place.
AdjudicationA final judicial determination by the giving of a judgment or a decree in a civil case.
AdoptionThe act by which a person takes the child of another into his or her own family and makes the child, for all legal purposes, his or her own child.
Adversary ProceedingsActions contested by opposing parties.
AffidavitA written statement of fact that is verified by oath or affirmation.
Aid to Families with Dependant ChildrenA program of public assistance to families, administered in Michigan by the Family Independence Agency. Replaced by in Michigan by the Financial Independence Program (FIP), also called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) by the federal government.
AlimonySee spousal support.
Alternative Dispute ResolutionA method to resolve disagreements without the direct intervention of the court. See Arbitration, Conciliation, Mediation.
Amended Order of ProbationUsed to add or delete information contained in the original Order of Probation, as recommended by the judge or probation officer.
AppealAn application to a higher court requesting a change of the judgment of a lower court.
Appellate CourtA court which reviews lower court decisions, generally on the record of the lower court.
1.Coming into court: The formal act by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court.
2. Document identifying one who is representing himself or another. An attorney files an "appearance" making it known that (s)he is representing an individual.
Arbitration/Binding MediationA procedure for the determination of a disputed matter. Legally binding, as opposed to mediation.
ArraignmentA court hearing at which the defendant is informed of the specific criminal charges for which he or she is being charged. This is the first step in your case being processed by the court.
ArrearageMoney which is overdue and unpaid.
AttorneyA lawyer; a person admitted to legal practice who is qualified to represent the legal interests of another person.
Bench WarrantAn order issued by the court (from the bench) for the arrest of a person, so that (s)he may be brought before the court.
Bond, Bail, or Bail BondA promise that the defendant in a misdemeanor case will appear in court when required. This promise is normally guaranteed by the defendant or someone else posting money or property with the court. There are four types of bonds: personal recognizance bond, cash bond, ten-percent bond, and a surety bond. A personal recognizance bond is the only type of bond in which the defendant is released by pledging only his or her word to return to court.
Burden of ProofThe duty to establish facts in a dispute. In civil matters, this burden may be a "preponderance of the evidence" or "clear and convincing evidence".
CaseloadThe number of cases in a specific catagory (i.e. open, closed, assigned to a judge, etc.).
Cash BondA payment of a specific amount of money to guarantee future support payments will be made.
Certified CopyA copy of an order signed and certified as an exact true copy by the officer of the court having possession of the original order.
Change of VenueTransfer or removal of a case to a court of another geographical location and jurisdiction, either because it should have been there in the first place, or for the convenience of the parties or witnesses, or because a fair trial cannot be had in the original court location.
Chief JudgeIn courts with two or more judges, one judge is selected as chief judge. The chief judge is the director of the administration of the court.
Child Abuse/NeglectMistreatment of a minor by an adult legally responsible for the minor.
Child Born Out-of-WedlockA child born to a woman who was not married from the conception to the date of birth, or a child which the court has determined to have been born or conceived during a marriage, but is not the husband's child.
Child SupportPayment of money for a child in a divorce, paternity, or family support act proceeding. Support includes health care, and may include educational and child care expenses.
Child Support FormulaFactors considered by the Friend of the Court and the Prosecuting Attorney when making a recommendation, and by the Family Division when making a determination for an appropriate amount of child support. Both parents' incomes are considered under the formula.
Child Support GuidelinesSee Child Support Formula.
Circuit DivisionThe trial court in Michigan which hears many types of cases. Domestic relations actions are tried in the family division of this court.
CommitThe act of sending a person to jail, pursuant to a court order.
ComplaintThe original pleading in a domestic relations matter. In this pleading, the plaintiff alleges the basis for the suit and states the remedy requested.
ConciliationA method of alternative Dispute Resolution utilized by many Friend of the Court offices. The conciliator attempts to assist parties in resolving disputes, but may prepare a recommendation if the parties are not able to reach agreement on issues. See Mediation.
Contempt of Court HearingAlso known as a "show cause" hearing. A court hearing in which the person alleged to be in violation of the court order has the opportunity to show good cause why (s)he did not comply.
CustodyCare and keeping of anything or anyone, i.e., children in a domestic relations action.
DefendantThe person against whom a lawsuit is started or a crime charged.
DelinquentIn regards to child support, an amount owed but not paid.(See Average).
Department of Social ServicesNow known as the Family Independence Agency.
DismissalA court order terminating a particular case.
District DivisionAll criminal cases are started in the district division. The district division hears all misdemeanors and civil cases under $25,000, including small claims.
DivorceThe legal termination of a marriage.
DocketA list of cases set for a hearing by a court on a specific day. The Court prepares court dockets for cases involving traffic and other violations.
Domestic Relations ActionAny action involving families. Divorce, paternity and family support actions are all considered domestic relations actions.
DomicileThe permanent home to which a person, when absent, always intends to return. (See Residence).
DSSAn abbreviation for the Michigan Department of Social Services. Now known as the Family Independence Agency.
EmancipationThe act by which one attains adulthood. Emancipation may occur when a child reaches the age of majority, marries, enters military service, or by court order.
EnforcementActivity engaged in by the Friend of the Court to bring an alleged violator of a court order into compliance.
EvidenceProof allowed at a hearing. Evidence may be presented through testimony of witnesses and by documents, records and other material.
Ex ParteOn the request of one party only, without notice to any other party.
Ex Parte OrderAn order made by the court upon the request of one party to an action without prior notice to the other party.
Fair ConsiderationA payment which represents the value of the property or service transferred.
Family DivisionThe division of the circuit court responsible for hearing cases about families and their children. The family division hears domestic relations matters, as well as juvenile matters formerly heard by the probate court.
Family Independence AgencyThe agency providing public assistance to families. Includes the Office of Child Support. Formerly known as the Michigan Department of Social Services.
FeesA charged fixed by law for services.
FelonyA crime punishable by more one year in state prison. Examples of felonies include homicide, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, and armed robbery.
FIAAn abbreviation for the Family Independence Agency.
FileTo put in the records of the court.
FilingThe act of recording the various legal documents regarding a suit with the clerk of the court.
FIPFinancial Independence Program. Michigan's name for the program which replaced Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC or ADC). The federal government equivalent is now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
Friend of the Court- 1. An office of the family division; investigates and makes recommendations to the court in domestic relations actions involving minor children; enforces orders of the court; collects, records and disburses support payments. 2. A person; the director of the office.
GarnishmentA court order to take part of a person's wages or other money owed to him/her before (s)he receives the money, because of an unpaid debt owed a creditor.
GuardianThe person who has a legal duty and power to take care of another person who by age, or incompetence, is unable to care for him/herself.
Guardian Ad LitemA person appointed by the court during the course of a litigation for the purpose of protecting the interests of an infant or incompetent adult.
HearsayA statement made outside of the hearing. Most hearsay evidence is not allowed as evidence in court.
Inactive CaseA case for which the Friend of the Court is no longer responsible for initiating enforcement, or other, services. May also be called a "closed case". A criminal case with an active bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant.
Income Withholding OrderAn order of the court. It directs an employer, or source of income, to withhold a fixed amount and send that amount to the court for purposes of support or the payment of fines and costs.
Interstate Income Withholding OrderAn order entered to secure payment of support through an employer in another State.
Joint CustodyAn order of the family division which provides: 1. Parents will share in major decisions affecting their children (joint legal custody). 2. Children will live with one parent part of the time and the other parent part of the time (joint physical custody).
JudgmentThe decision of a court.
Judicial Tenure CommissionThe panel which reviews and investigates complaints against judges, and makes recommendations to the Supreme Court for discipline or removal, if appropriate.
JurisdictionThe power of the court to decide cases before it. This power depends on the type of case and how closely connected the parties are to the county where the court is located.
LEINLaw Enforcement Information Network. A computer system containing files on wanted persons, convictions and various court orders. This network is maintained by the Michigan State Police and links all criminal justice agencies in the United Stattes, Canada and some other countries.
LienA claim against real or personal property. The owner cannot sell the property without first paying the debt. It also subjects the property to be seizure and sale.
LitigantA party to a legal action.
LitigationThe process of resolving a dispute in court.
Mediation(1) A process parties can use to reach their own agreements without going to court. (2) Binding Mediation - A procedure used to determine a disputed matter. The Mediator's decision is binding upon parties. See Arbitration.
MinorA person under the age of 18 years.
MisdemeanorA less serious type of crime, in which the maximum punishment is no more than one year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include retail fraud (shoplifting), larceny under $100, assault and battery.
Mutual AgreementAn arrangement reached by parties on their own free will without duress or coercion.
ObligorA person who has a duty to do something. A support obligor is the person responsible for paying support.
Office of Child SupportThe office within the Family Independence Agency that administers Federal child support program funds, coordinates location of absent parents and manages the process for income tax intercepts. This office may also initiate complaints under the Paternity Act and the Family Support Act.
OrderA decision of the court made in writing.
Order for DischargeA written directive from the court that discharges the person from probation. This petition is prepared if the client has obeyed all the conditions of probation.
Order to Show CauseA request filed by a probation officer with the sentencing judge when a defendant has violated or not obeyed a condition of probation once signed by the judge. The defendant is ordered to come to court.
PartyA person legally involved in a particular action.
Paternity SuitAn action to prove who is the father of a child born to parents who are not married to one another.
PayeeThe person, or agency, to whom support is sent. Also known as recipient.
PayorThe person who is ordered to remit support.
PetitionA formal written request made to the court requesting some type of action.
PlaintiffThe person who originally files the action.
PleaA defendant's response to a criminal charge, either guilty, not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendere). A no contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea, except the defendant does not have to admit guilt.
PleadingsPapers filed by parties in a lawsuit stating claims against each other, or his/her defenses to those claims.
Power of AttorneyA written instrument appointing and authorizing a person to act in the place of another as agent or substitute.
Preliminary ExaminationA hearing before a district division judge following arraignment at which the judge must determine if a crime was committed and whether sufficient evidence had been presented that the defendant committed the crime. Preliminary exams are held in felony cases.
Pretrial ConferenceInformal hearing between the judge and attorneys(and sometimes parties) to discuss any matters that can be resolved prior to a court hearing.
Pro PerA person who represents himself or herself in court without an attorney. Also known as Pro Se.
Probate DivisionThe court which handles wills, estates, and commitment of mentally ill persons.
ProbationAllowing a defendant convicted of a crime to remain out of jail or prison as long as they fulfill certain conditions. Persons on probation are supervised by probation officers. The 46th Circuit Trial Court has its own probation division in the misdemeanor division of the Court.
Probation OrderAn official written directive from the court ordering that a defendant in a criminal case is sentenced to a term of probation. This document is prepared by a court clerk, signed by both the judge and the defendant, and includes all legal conditions, fines, costs, and other special conditions.
RecipientA person or agency to whom support is paid. Also known as payee.
ReconciliationWhen parties to a domestic relations actions are attempting to work out his/her differences and remain as a family unit.
RefereeA person who holds hearings, takes testimony and makes recommendations for orders to the court.
Release of InformationA form signed by a defendant authorizing a probation officer to legally obtain information about the defendant.
ResidenceThe place where one presently lives.
RURESAAn abbreviation for Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act. Pertains to non-support actions against a parent in another state. Replaced by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).
SentencingFinal step on the legal process, in which a penalty is applied by a judge for someone who is convicted of or plead guilty to a crime.
Show Cause HearingA court hearing which is held so that a person can present reasons why (s)he should not be considered in violation of a specific court order. Also known as a Contempt of Court Hearing.
Sole CustodyAn order of the court which provides that children reside with one parent, and that parent is responsible for all decisions affecting them.
Statute of LimitationsIn civil matters, the time limit on the right to seek relief in court for damages.
StatutesLaws of the State of Michigan enacted by the Legislature.
StipulationA mutual agreement between parties or his/her attorneys which resolves a particular issue.
SummonsA notice given to a party that a court action has been started against them.
Support OrderAn order issued by the family division ordering the payment of money for children or spouse in a domestic relations action.
Supreme CourtThe court of last resort in Michigan, the highest appeals court in the state.
SurchargeA penalty assessed on support which is not paid timely.
SuspensionHeld up or put on the shelf; temporarily stopped.
TANFTemporary Assistance for Needy Families. Replaced Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC or ADC). In Michigan, known as Financial Independence Program (FIP).
TestimonyThe statement of a witness under oath which is given as evidence.
TranscriptA word for word typed record of proceedings at a hearing.
Travel PermitA legal document giving a person on probation permission to travel to another state during his or her probation period. This permit will list specific dates and locations of travel that the court has allowed.
UIFSAAn abbreviation for "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act." Pertains to support actions where the parents do not live in the same state.
VenueThe county in which proceedings may be commenced. Also, see Change of Venue.
Visitation OrderAn order that establishes time between the children and the parent with whom (s)he do not primarily reside. Also known as a “parenting time order”.
WaiveTo give up a right, claim or privilege.
WarrantAn order issued by a judge which allows police to arrest a person. (See Bench Warrant).
Warrant of ArrestAn order issued by a judge or magistrate to a police officer requiring the arrest of the person named in the warrant.
WitnessOne who testifies to what (s)he has seen, heard or otherwise observed.
Crawford County Courts