A court order requiring a portion of earned wages be withheld and assigned to a third party for the payment of a debt.  Also known as a Wage Assignment or Wage Attachment, the procedure to obtain a garnishment order is determined by state law, with the exception of military duty personnel who are subject to federal law.  Less than the full amount ordered may be received if the payor does not have sufficient disposable earnings to allow the deduction of the full amount.  The Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1673) limits the amount that can be deducted as child support/spousal maintenance from earnings. The limit ranges from 50 percent (50%) to sixty-five percent (65%) of disposable earnings. The full ordered amount of payment will be deducted as long as that amount does not exceed the maximum percentage allowable under the law.  Refer to Income Withholding or (PRWORA) Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.


Money or property freely given to an individual during a marriage by a spouse, relative, or any third party that is considered the sole property of the person receiving same.  Refer to Separate Property.

Good Cause:

A legal reason for which a recipient of public assistance is excused from cooperating with child support enforcement processes, such as past physical harm by the child’s other parent. It also includes situations where rape or incest resulted in the conception of the child and situations where the mother is considering placing the child for adoption.  Refer to OCSE (Office of Child Support Enforcement or TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).

Good Faith Participation:

The principle under which participants commit to engage in an alternative dispute resolution process toward reaching a mutually agreeable plan or reconciliation for presentation to the court.

Grandparent Access (Visitation):

Refers to the access (visitation) rights of grandparents, affected by court order, to remain in contact with children during a divorce proceeding and upon final judgment of same.  However, based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 (Troxel v. Granville)courts are severely restricting grandparent access in favor of parental rights to limit access to their child(ren).  Refer to Access (Visitation), Monitored Exchange, or Supervised Access (Visitation).

Grave Risk of Harm:

A legal argument under rules of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) against international child abduction when defending against a child abduction lawsuit for the return of a minor to the child(ren)’s country of habitual residence.  Proof of assertion that the child(ren) would be exposed to physical or psychological harm or placed in an intolerable situation is held to the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence over the principle of best interest of the child(ren). Refer to Clear and Convincing Evidence, Best Interest of the Child, and Hague Convention.

Gross Income:

Earnings received before mandatory deductions for taxes, social security contributions, wage garnishments and other adjustments are withheld.  Refer to Income or Net Income.

Ground(s) for Divorce:

The legal basis for a divorce, established by state statute; that sets out specific reasons (voluntary separation, adultery, impotency, cruel and abusive treatment, malicious abandonment, imprisonment, habitual alcohol/drug abuse, etc.) for certain improper or troublesome behavior which have to be proven before the court may grant a fault divorce.  Refer to Fault Divorce, No-Fault Divorce.

Guardian Ad Litem:

A person (lawyer, psychologist, or other appropriate advocate) appointed by the court (but paid by the parties) to represent and protect the best interests of child(ren) or incapacitated/ incompetent adult(s) in a particular matter before the court as their “guardian at law”. Primarily used to investigate juvenile, family court, probate, and domestic relations matters, often involving questions of custody, access, or paternity of a child, a Guardian Ad Litem is tasked to exercise their own judgment in determining the “best interest of the child(ren)”, present evidence, assemble expert witnesses, make recommendations, and report their findings to the court.


A legal relationship, sometimes called a conservatorship, that is created when a person or institution is named in a will or appointed by the court to take care of minor children until the age of majority; or adults determined incompetent or incapable of administering their own affairs.