Divorce Jargon Buster

Divorce Jargon Explained

Divorce law made simple

Acknowledgement of Service: the form sent to the respondent — they can accept or contest the divorce

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): ways of resolving disputes without going to court

Ancillary relief: an application for financial relief following the presentation of a petition for divorce, nullity or judicial separation

Annulment: a way of ending a marriage as an alternative to divorce — it’s as if the marriage never took place

Arbitration: a form of ADR involving arbitration by one or more third parties

Assets: property with value and available to meet debts, commitments, or legacies, owned by a person or company

Court Bailiff: employees of Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service, responsible for enforcing orders of the County Court

Barrister: a type of lawyer who works at higher levels of court, identified by the wig and gown

CAFCASS: the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service — a non-departmental public body in England set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court

Capital: wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person

Capital Orders: one partner is ordered to pay a cash lump sums, transfer of property, or pension adjustment Case Law: the law as established by the outcome of former cases

Child Arrangements Order: orders defining whom a child will live with, where, and when

Clean Break: an order which would lead to each spouse becoming financially independent of the other

Cohabitation Agreement: legal agreement reached between a couple who have chosen to live together (whether they are heterosexual or homosexual)

Collaborative Law: a legal process involving working with lawyers to end a marriage outside of the courts

Collaborative Participationm Agreement: a form both partners sign when they begin the collaborative law process

Consent Order: a legally binding financial agreement between you and your ex-partner

Contract: a written or spoken agreement that is intended to be enforceable by law

Cross Petition: divorce petition issued by the respondent in response to the petitioner

Declaration of Trust: a document in which ‘trustees’ are appointed to hold property for ‘beneficiaries’

Decree Absolute: a court’s final order officially ending a marriage, enabling either party to remarry

Decree Nisi: a court order stating the date on which a marriage will end unless a good reason not to grant a divorce is produced

Decree of Judicial Separation: confirms the parties to a marriage or civil partnership are separated (but remain married / in a civil partnership)

Defending the Petition: when a respondent disagrees with the divorce petition and challenges it

Desertion: the situation where one spouse has decided not to live with the other spouse for no justifiable reason Divorce: the termination of a marriage or marital union Divorce Petition: paperwork sent to the respondent informing them of the impending divorce

Domestic Violence: violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner — but also including psychological, financial, sexual, or emotional abuse

Drafting Orders: preparing a document, filed in the court registry, which sets out the decision of the judge Estate: all the money and property owned by a particular person

Family Arbitration: a form of private dispute resolution in which the parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a suitably qualified person (an “arbitrator”) to adjudicate a dispute and make an award. It can be used to resolve financial disputes and disputes concerning children

Financial Disclosure: gathering together the financial documents needed to come to a divorce settlement

Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR): a court appointment during which a divorcing couple can be helped towards a financial settlement

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA): the first court hearing after an application has been made to court in private family law

Form E: your financial statement

Hearing: a proceeding before a court, usually shorter and often less formal than a trial

Income: money received, especially on a regular basis, for work or through investments

Lawyer: a person who practises or studies law, especially (in the UK) a solicitor or a barrister or (in the US) an attorney

Lodge Application: a document in which the person completing the document states his intention to seek a court order

Magistrates Courts: a lower court, where almost all criminal proceedings start and where some civil matters are also decided, notably family proceedings

Married Women’s Property Act 1882: an Act of Parliament that significantly altered English law regarding the property rights of married women, which besides other matters allowed married women to own and control property in their own right

Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: an Act of Parliament governing divorce law and marriage in England and Wales

Mediation: a form of ADR, a way of resolving disputes between with a third party, the mediator, to help negotiate a settlement out of court

Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM): a meeting to see if mediation could be used to resolve your difficulties, rather than going straight to court

Parental Responsibility: the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has for a child and the child’s property

Parental Responsibility Agreement: an agreement made between the mother and the unmarried father to allow him to have parental responsibility

Parental Responsibility Order: an order under the Children Act 1989, which unmarried fathers can apply for when the mother refuses to allow the father to be registered or re-registered on the birth certificate, or refuses to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement with him

Pension Sharing Order: an order that a pension fund should be divided in percentages stipulated by the court Pension Attachment Order: enables the court to direct pension scheme trustees to make payments to an ex spouse from the date the member draws on the pension benefits

Petitioner: the spouse who petitions for divorce Power of Arrest: a mandate that allows an individual to remove a criminal’s (or suspected criminal’s) liberty; can also be used to protect a person from harm or to protect from damage to property

Prenuptial Agreement: an agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail

Process Server: delivers or “serves” legal documents to a defendant or person involved in a court case

Property Adjustment Orders: orders the court can make about the family home

Residence Order: now known as a Child Arrangements Order

Respondent: the spouse who receives the divorce petition Round Table Negotiations: similar to the type of negotiation that would take place at court, but which take place outside court

Separation: living apart from your legal partner

Separation Agreement: also known as a Deed of Separation, it records from the start who is to have what and what both parties’ responsibilities are

Solicitor: a member of the legal profession qualified to deal with legal matters

Spousal Maintenance Orders: an order for your ex-partner to pay maintenance income

Spouse: a husband or wife, considered in relation to their partner

Welfare Checklist: the checklist the court will refer to when making decisions affecting children in divorce cases

Will: a legal declaration by which someone names one or more persons to manage their estate and provides for the distribution of their property at death