Glossary S

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.


Supervised Visitation

Visitation between a parent and a child that happens in the presence of another specified adult. The court may order supervised visitation when there has been domestic violence, child abuse, or a threat to take the child out of state. Click here for more information on supervised visitation.

Support Order

A court order for the support of a child, spouse or domestic partner. A support order can include monetary support; health care; payment of debts; or repayment of court costs and attorney fees, interest, and penalties; and other kinds of support. (See also noncustodial parent, obligation, obligor.)

Support Person

In a domestic violence case, the person who says s/he is the victim of domestic violence can choose someone, a support person, to provide moral and emotional support. The support person does not need to have any special training or qualification. The support person may sit with the person to be protected at court hearings if the person to be protected does not have a lawyer, but s/he is not allowed to give legal advice or advocate for the person to be protected. The support person can also go with the protected person to custody mediation or orientation to mediation. For more information on support persons, read Family Code section 6303.

Statute Of Limitations

A law that sets the deadline for parties to file suit to enforce their rights. For example, if a state has a 4-year statute of limitations for breach of a written contract, and “John” breached a contract with “Susan” on January 1, 1996, Susan must file her lawsuit by January 1, 2000. If the deadline passes, the “statute of limitations has run” (or the claim is “time-barred”) and “Susan” may not be allowed to sue. There are very few conditions that allow a statute to be extended or “tolled” (kept from running).


To stop or put an end to someone’s activities. To suppress evidence is to withhold it from disclosure or publication.

Statutory Damages For Malice

A financial penalty set by law if one of the parties has acted with malice. Malice is conscious, intentional wrongdoing based on ill will, hatred or total disregard for the other’s well-being.

Surrogate Parent

A person that substitutes for the legal parent to advocate for a child’s special educational rights and needs; can be selected by the child’s parent or appointed by the local educational agency (LEA).

Stay Order

An order issued by a court stopping court proceedings until a further, specified event takes place.


To postpone, stay, or withhold certain conditions of a judicial sentence for a temporary period of time.

Stipulated Judgment

An agreement between the parties to a case that settles a case. For example, if you and your spouse agree on all the matters about your divorce, you can submit a stipulated judgment to the court. The stipulated judgment must be signed by both you and your spouse, and will list your agreements about the division of property and debts, child and spousal support and child custody and visitation. Once the stipulated judgment is signed by the judge, it becomes the judgment in your case.

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