Glossary

Abuse
Action
Affidavit
Allegations
Answer
Appeal
Bailiff
Calendar
Clerk of the Court
Contempt of Court
Continuance
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
Criminal Non-Support
Default
Deposition
Discovery
Docket
Evidence
Family Support Team (FST)
Finding
Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
Hearing
Interlocutory
Interrogatories
Judgement
Judicial Notice
Minor
Mediation
Motion
Neglect
Notice
Petitioner
Pleading
Parties
Pro bono
Pro se
Protective custody
Record
Respondent
Reunification
Service
Statute
Subpoena
Testimony
Treatment Plan
Witness

Abuse
Any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child's care, custody, and control, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed as abuse.

Action
A proceeding taken in a court of law. Synonymous with case, suit, lawsuit.

Affidavit
A written statement of fact signed and sworn to before a person having authority to administer an oath.

Allegations
The assertion, declaration or statement of a party to an action made in a pleading, stating what he or she expects to prove.

Answer
A written statement of the respondent's case made in response to the plaintiff's complaint.

Appeal
The process by which a case is brought from one court to a higher court for review for a reversal or modification of the judgement of the lower court.

Bailiff
A court officer who opens and closes court and keeps peace in the courtroom.

Calendar
A list of cases arranged for trial in court; also referred to as a docket.

Clerk of the Court
An officer of the court whose principal duty is to maintain court records.

Contempt of Court
An act that is meant to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct a court in the administration of justice. Direct contempt is committed in the presence of the court. Indirect contempt is when a lawful court order is not carried out or is refused by the party against whom the order was issued.

Continuance
A delay or postponement of a court hearing.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
A volunteer that is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court.

Criminal Non-Support
A person who commits the crime of non-support when he or she knowingly fails to provide, without good cause, adequate support for the spouse and/or minor children when legally obligated to do so. Criminal non-support is a Class A Misdemeanor in Missouri. If the violator leaves the state for the purpose of avoiding the obligation to support, then it is a Class D Felony.

Default
A judgement entered against a defendant who does not plead within the allowable time or does not appear at the trial.

Deposition
Testimony taken under oath outside the courtroom concerning the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident. It may be introduced as evidence in a court hearing at a later time.

Discovery
A pre-trial procedure that allows each party to get written or oral information from the other party.

Docket
The order in which cases will be heard or tried on a given day. The list often is posted outside the courtroom with cases listed by petitioner's name.

Evidence
Any form of proof legally presented at a trial through witnesses, records, documents or other material.

Family Support Team (FST)
A team that ensures that the necessary services and support are provided to all parties of the case. The team would include the Mother/Father, Deputy Juvenile Officer, Children's Division, Court Appointed Special Advocate, Guardian Ad Litem, Parent's Attorney, and any other individuals working toward the goal of reunifying the child back into the parental home.

Finding
The court's or jury's decision on issues of fact. In almost all court orders, the findings of facts precede the actual order of the court.

Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
An attorney or special advocate appointed by the court to represent the interests of a child in a civil or criminal proceeding involving that child. A GAL must be appointed if there is an allegation that the child has been neglected or abused. The GAL is charged with promoting the best interests of the child in that proceeding.

Hearing
A legal proceeding wherein attorneys and interested parties in a case appear before a judge in a court of law.

Interlocutory
Provisional; temporary; not final. Refers to an order of the court.

Interrogatories
Written question developed by one party's attorney for the adversary in a case who must respond in writing and under oath.

Judgement
A determination by a court of the rights and claims of the parties in an action.

Judicial Notice
An act in which a judge conducting a trial or framing a decision recognizes the existence and truth of certain facts having a bearing on the controversy without the production of evidence. The awareness of certain facts that judges and jurors may properly act upon without proof or argument because they already know them.

Minor
Any person under the age of 18.

Mediation
A non-binding process involving a neutral mediator who acts as a facilitator to assist the parties to craft a mutually acceptable resolution.

Motion
An oral or written request for an action made by a party either before, during or after a trial, upon which a court issues a ruling or order.

Neglect
Failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child's well-being.

Notice
A written order to appear in court at a certain time and place.

Petitioner
a person who brings an action seeking legal relief; also referred to as the plaintiff.

Pleading
Formal written allegations by the parties in a lawsuit of their respective claims and defense presented for the judgement of the court.

Parties
The persons who take part in the performance of any act, or who are directly interested in any affair, or who are actively concerned in the prosecution and defense of any legal proceeding; commonly referred to as the plaintiff and defendant or respondent. The plaintiff is the person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a personal action. The respondent is the person defending or denying; the person against who the relief or recovery is sought.

Pro bono
when an attorney agrees to represent the party for free.

Pro se
A person who represents him or herself in court without the aid of an attorney.

Protective custody
A police officer, law enforcement official, or a physician, who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering from illness or injury or is in danger of personal harm by reason of his surroundings and that a case of child abuse or neglect exists, may request that the juvenile officer take the child into protective custody.

Record
A copy of the pleadings, exhibits, orders or decrees filed in a case in the trial court and a transcript of the testimony taken in the case.

Respondent
The person named or charged in a civil suit or in a domestic relations case.

Reunification
The court gives the child(ren) back to parents based on substantial compliance with the court ordered treatment plan. This can also be referred to as permissive placement.

Service
Notification of an action or of some proceeding given to the person affected in person, or by sending it to him or her in the mail, or by publication in the newspaper; the delivery or communication of a legal document in a suit to the opposite party.

Statute
State law as enacted by the Missouri General Assembly

Subpoena
A written order issued by the court to compel a witness to appear and give testimony or produce documentary evidence in a legal proceeding

Testimony
Any statement made by a witness under oath in a legal proceeding.

Treatment Plan
The plan is formally presented to the Judge at the jurisdictional hearing for approval. It is a list of what you need to do in order to reunify with your child. It contains the responsibilities of your case worker at Children's Division. It is developed by you and your support team.

Witness
Any person called to testify under oath in a criminal or civil proceeding regarding what that person has seen heard or otherwise observed. This might include the victim, the defendant, eyewitnesses, police officers, medical or other professionals, for example.