Court Order Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Court Order, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Court Order?

A court’s decision that typically demands the performance or refraining of an action. For example: a court order may compel a reluctant witness to testify. Failing to comply with a court order could result in contempt of court which can lead to jail time.

History and Meaning of Court Order

A court order is a ruling issued by a court of law that requires an individual to take a specific action or to refrain from doing so. These orders are typically issued in response to a request made by one of the parties involved in a legal case. Court orders are legally binding, meaning that failing to comply with one can result in various penalties, including fines, imprisonment, or other legal sanctions.

Courts have been issuing orders since the earliest days of human civilization. The concept of a court order dates back to ancient times, when kings and rulers would issue edicts and decrees to enforce their will. In modern times, court orders are typically issued in response to specific legal disputes, such as divorce cases, child custody battles, property disputes, and criminal trials.

Examples of Court Order

  1. A court may issue a restraining order, which requires an individual to refrain from contacting or approaching another person. This type of order is often used in cases of domestic violence or stalking.
  2. A court may issue a search warrant, which authorizes law enforcement officials to search a particular location for evidence of criminal activity.
  3. A court may issue a garnishment order, which requires an employer to withhold a portion of an employee’s wages to repay a debt.

Legal Terms Similar to Court Order

  1. Injunction - a court order that requires an individual to stop doing a particular action.
  2. Subpoena - a court order that requires an individual to appear in court or provide testimony.
  3. Writ of mandamus - a court order that compels a government official to carry out a specific duty or responsibility.