Glossary G

Glossary of Legal Definitions

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The following list of legal definitions taken from the California Court's website may be useful in your California Family Law case. For further definitions in other areas of law not covered here, please visit the California Court's website.



A legal process that allows part of a person’s wages and/or assets to be withheld for payment of a debt. Wage or income garnishment is usually involuntary. (See also direct income withholding, income withholding, wage withholding.)

General Plan Of Conservatorship

A conservator’s formal plan for taking care of the conservatee’s personal and financial needs. This plan must be filed with the court within 90 days after the conservator has been appointed by the court. Both conservators of the person and conservators of the estate must prepare and file general plans.

Genetic Testing

A medical test to determine legal fatherhood (or “paternity”). (See also blood test.)


A person who does not have the same rights as a tenant, for example, someone who stays in a transient hotel for fewer than seven days.

Good Cause

A good reason. For example, a party must have good cause (better than not having a car or a baby-sitter) for not coming to a court hearing.


A person that promises to be responsible for the debt of another person if that person fails to pay the debt on time.


A person who has the legal rights and responsibilities to care for a child whose parents are unavailable to care for him or her. A guardian can be a guardian of the person, taking care of the personal needs of a child like care, custody, schooling and medical decisions and/or a guardian of the estate, managing the child’s finances. The child is referred to as the “ward.” (Compare with conservatorship.)

Guardian Ad Litem

A court-appointed adult that represents a minor child or legally incompetent person. (See also ad litem.)


In California, a court proceeding where a judge appoints someone to care for a person under age 18 or to manage the minor’s estate (property), or both. In some states, conservatorship of an adult is called guardianship, but not in California. (Compare with conservatorship.)


In family law, a standard method for figuring out child support payments based on the income of the parent(s) and other factors according to state law. The Federal Family Support Act of 1988 says states must use guidelines to calculate support for each family unless there is a written court finding saying the guidelines would be inappropriate for that case.

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