Glossary W

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.



To give up a legal right voluntarily, intentionally, and with full knowledge of the consequences.

Waiver Of Rights Form

A form signed by a defendant and the judge recording which, if any, legal rights are waived (or given up) by the defendant.

Ward Of The Court

A minor that is under the care and control of the juvenile court and not his or her parent(s).


A written order issued and signed by a judge or judicial officer directing a peace officer to take specific action. Can be: (1) an arrest warrant—orders a peace officer to arrest and bring to the court the person accused of a crime to begin legal action; (2) a bench warrant—a judge’s order to arrest and bring a person to court because the person has failed to appear in court when they were supposed to; (3) a recall warrant—an order to remove from Department of Justice and state police computers information about canceled warrants to avoid mistaken arrests; or (4) a search warrant—an order based on a finding of probable cause directing law enforcement officers to conduct a search of specific premises for specific persons or things and to bring them to the court.


A legal paper that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his or her personal property after death.

Without Prejudice

A term used when rights or privileges are not waived or lost. A dismissal of a lawsuit without prejudice means a new suit can be brought on the same cause of action if it is within the statute of limitations.


A person called by either side in a lawsuit to give testimony before the judge or jury.


A written court order saying that certain action must be taken. Can be a writ of: (1) attachment—an order to attach specified property; (2) certiorari—an order by an appellate court granting or denying a review of judgment; (3) execution—an order to enforce a court judgment; (4) habeas corpus—an order to release someone that has been unlawfully imprisoned; (5) mandamus (or mandate)—an order to perform any act designated by law to be part of a person’s duty or status; or (6) prohibition—the opposite of a writ of mandate that orders that further proceedings or other official acts be stopped (usually issued from a higher to a lower court).

Writ Of Execution

An order issued by a court requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority to have it done. It is used to allow the levying officer the power to take the judgment debtor’s property.

Wage Assignment

A legal procedure that requires the employer of a judgment debtor to withhold a portion of the judgment debtor’s wages to satisfy a judgment. Also used to order an employer to transfer (or assign) parts of future wage payments to pay a debt, like child support.

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