California Department of Fair Employment and Housing: The state agency that investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination in housing and employment.
Case: A lawsuit. Or a complaint filed in criminal, traffic, or civil court.
Case number: Identification number that the court clerk's office gives a case. This number is on all papers filed in the case. Also called "case ID," or "docket number." Case flow management: How a case is managed from the first paper filed to the final decision.
Cause of Action: Generally, a situation or set of facts that allows a person to file a lowsurt in court. The charges (or "counts") that make up the case or lawsuit.
Certified copy: An official copy of a paper from a case file that is marked as being true, complete, and a real copy of the original paper
Child custody: There are two kinds of child custody. "Physical custody" designates where the child will actually live. "Legal custody" gives the custodial person(s) the right to make decisions for the child's welfare. If the parents agree, the court can award joint custody, physical and/or legal custody.
Child support: Money paid by a parent to help support a child or children.
Child visitation schedule: A parent who does not have physical custody is usually given reasonable visitation time with the children, unless there is some reason it would be detrimental to them.
Citation: A court order or summons that tells a defendant what the charges are. Also tells the defendant to go to court and/or post bail.
Cited: When a defendant is not in custody but has signed a ticket promising to go to court on a certain day; can be used for any infraction, city or county ordinance, or misdemeanor.
Civil Case: A lawsuit to get property back, to force someone to complete a contract, or to protect someone’s civil rights.
Civil Jurisdiction: A court’s right or power to hear noncriminal ("civil") cases.
Civil Process: Court papers that tell the people in a civil case that it has started. Or papers that try to force the court to reach a judgment. Claim of Defendant: A claim filed by a defendant against the plaintiff who has started the lawsuit. (See cross-claim.)
Claim of Exemption: A court paper filed by the judgment debtor that lists each piece of property that the judgment debtor claims is an exempt asset under certain provisions of the law and, therefore, can’t be taken to pay the judgment.
Claim of Right to Possession: A form that the occupants of a rental unit can fill out to temporarily stop their eviction by the sheriff after the landlord has won an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit. The occupants can use this form only if: the landlord did not serve a Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession form with the summons and complaint; the occupants were not named in the writ of possession; and the occupants have lived in the rental unit since before the unlawful detainer lawsuit was filed.
Claim Splitting: When a civil claim is split in and filed in two lawsuits to stay below the limit of how much money can be asked for. Not allowed in most cases.
Codes: The law created by statutes. For example, the California Code of Civil Procedure, California Civil Code, California Vehicle Code, California Penal Code, and California Health and Safety Code. Codicil: A legal paper that adds to or changes a will. Collaborative Law: A way to solve conflicts without going to court. Both sides have a lawyer, but they agree not to go to court unless it is impossible to settle the case.
Commissioner: A person chosen by the court and given the power to hear and make decisions in certain kinds of legal matters.
Community obligations: Community obligations are the debts that a husband and wife or registered domestic partners OWE TOGETHER. In most cases that includes anything that they still owe on any debts either of them took on during the time they were living together as husband and wife or as registered domestic partners. (If they bought furniture on credit while they were married or in a registered domestic partnership and living together, the unpaid balance is a part of their community obligations.) Community property: Community property is everything that a husband and wife or registered domestic partners OWN TOGETHER. In most cases that includes:
Money or benefits like pensions and stock options that they now have which either of them earned during the time they were living together as husband and wife or as registered domestic partners; and
Anything either of them bought with money earned during that period.
Conformed copy: An exact copy of a document, often certified to be so by a clerk of court.
Compensatory Damages: Money that one person must pay another to cover the cost of a wrong or injury. (See damages.)
Complaint: In civil cases, a written statement filed by the plaintiff that starts a case. Says what the plaintiff thinks the defendant did and asks the court for help. Also called the "initial pleading" or "petition". A complaint is also used to start a criminal case.
Complainant: Person that wants to start a court case against another person. In a civil case, the complainant is the plaintiff. In a criminal case, the complainant is the state.
Concealment: The act of removing something from sight or notice; hiding. An act which prevents or hinders the discovery of something.
Conditional Judgment: A court decision that consists of certain actions or requirements that are contingent on other actions. For example, the court orders that one party must return property to the other party within ten days or pay the other party $5,000.00.)
Conservator: Someone picked by the court to either take care of someone that can't take care of themselves (called a "conservatee") or take care of the property of the conservatee, or both.
Consolidation of actions: When at least 2 cases that involve the same people are grouped together.
Contested: A case is considered contested if the other party does not agree with what the petitioner requested and disputes or challenges it through the legal process.
Continuance: Putting off a court case to a later date. (See adjourn; compare with recess.)
Costs: (1) Fees and charges that a party pays to file and present a court case or to enforce a judgment; (2) money won in a civil suit to pay for expenses. Counterclaim: An independent charge by one side in a case (either the plaintiff or defendant) that goes against the claim made by the other side. (Compare with cross-complaint.)
Court clerk (or, Clerk of court): A person chosen by the judges to help manage cases, keep court records, deal with financial matters, and give other administrative support.
Court Order: A legal decision made by a court that commands or directs that something be done or not done. It can be made by a judge, commissioner, court referee, or magistrate.
Court record: The court's official copy of the papers used in a law case.
Credit report: A report prepared by a credit reporting agency that describes a person's credit history for the last seven years (except for bankruptcies, which are reported for 10 years). A credit report shows, for example, whether the person pays his or her bills on time, has delinquent or charged-off accounts, has been sued, and is subject to court judgments.
Credit reporting agency: A business that keeps records of people's credit histories, and that reports credit history information to prospective creditors.
Cross-complaint/Cross-claim: A claim filed by co-defendant(s) or co-plaintiff(s) against each other. (Compare with counterclaim.)
Custody mediation: A meeting with a trained, neutral third party who helps the parents try to agree on a parenting plan for their children.
Custody order: A court order that says who a child will live with and who should make decisions about health care, education, and other important things. (Family Code 3020 Probate Code 1510).
Custodial parent: The parent that has primary care, custody, and control of the child(ren).