Glossary

Want a better understanding of our legal terminology?

Take a look through our Glossary below to find out what they mean:

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A

  • Acknowledgement of Service

    The respondent to divorce proceedings will receive this form along with the divorce application/petition. It is a standard form in which the respondent will state whether they accept the divorce or whether they intend to defend it.

  • Adjournment

    Where the court orders that a hearing is to be postponed. The hearing will be moved to an alternative date.

  • Barrister

    A type of lawyer who has been ‘Called to the Bar,’ the main bulk of their work is court advocacy.

  • Bigamy

    Marrying someone whilst still legally married to another.

  • Beneficial Interest

    The right a person has to some form of economic benefit in property.

  • Beneficiary of a Trust

    The person(s) for whom the trust was created, they will be entitled to benefit of the trust.

  • Brief to Counsel

    Instructions summarising the current position and legal issues prepared by a solicitor prior to meeting a barrister with a client.

  • Bundles

    The pack of documents prepared prior to each court hearing. They contain all up to date information, orders, evidence and statements relating to the case. All parties rely on the bundles when it comes to the hearings.

  • C100

    The form used to apply for Child Arrangement Orders.

  • CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services)

    A government body that looks to represent the best interests of the children in the Family Courts. A CAFCASS Officer will speak to the parents, the children and any other relevant body/ third party. They will then help advise the court in relation to the welfare of the child and are often asked to generate a child welfare report.

  • Capital gain

    The economic gain resulting from the sale of an asset.

  • Certificate of Entitlement to a Decree

    A certificate which states the time and date you Decree Nisi will be pronounced in court.

  • Chambers

    Offices used by barristers or Judges.

  • Child Arrangement Order

    An order that regulates who a child is to live with and/or who a child is to spend time with.

  • Child of the Family

    A child who is treated as part of the family be they a biological child, adopted child or a step child.

  • Child Maintenance Service

    A government body that calculates, collects and enforces child maintenance payments.

  • Civil Partnership

    A legally recognised civil union between two people. It is most commonly related to same-sex couples but it is also available to opposite sex couples.

  • Clean Break

    A term used in financial settlement between a wife and husband in which they renounce any future claim to the others assets or income.

  • Cohabitation

    Where a couple who are not married live together.

  • Cohabitation Agreement

    An agreement made between cohabiting parties which sets out what would happen if the relationship were to break down.

  • Consent Order

    A court order which sets out an agreement between parties.

  • Contact

    The term used when discussing who is to spend time with the child who is subject to proceedings.

  • Contact Centre

    A neutral venue in which contact with children and other parties (such as the parent they do not live with or a grandparent) can be supported.

  • Co-Parenting Agreement

    An agreement relating to children that parties agree to follow. It is not legally binding but parties can apply to court to have it made legally binding.

  • Counsel

    Another term for barrister.

  • Court Bailiff

    You can make a request for a court bailiff to hand-deliver divorce papers to a respondent.

  • Decree Absolute

    The final divorce order, upon receipt of which the marriage has legally ended.

  • Decree Nisi

    An interim divorce order, the court acknowledges there are grounds for divorce.

  • Deemed Service

    A document is legally deemed as having been served on someone, regardless as to whether they have actually received it.

  • Defended Divorce

    Divorce proceedings in which the respondent does not accept that the marriage has ended and therefore challenges the application/petition.

  • Directions

    An instruction from the court, recorded in an Order.

  • Dissolution

    Legally ending a Civil Partnership.

  • District Judge

    Judges who handle the majority of family and county court cases.

  • Divorce

    Legally ending a marriage.

  • Domicile

    The permanent home of an individual.

  • Ex Parte Hearing

    A hearing that takes place without giving notice to the other party.

  • Expert Witness

    An expert who provides a statement, report or opinion in relation to the case.

  • Filing

    Submitting a document to the court.

  • Final Hearing

    The last hearing of the case in which the issues will be decided and the final decision will be recorded in a final order.

  • Financial Disclosure

    A process in which the parties provide a breakdown of all of their finances, assets and income to each other.

  • Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing

    The hearing in financial remedy proceedings in which a judge will give her or his opinion on the parties positions in relation to their finances. They will aim to help the parties come to a settlement.

  • Financial Remedy Proceedings

    Proceedings relating to the finances of the parties following divorce or dissolution.

  • First Directions Appointment

    The first hearing in financial remedy proceedings, in which parties aim to identify and narrow the issues.

  • Form A

    The form used to initiate financial remedy proceedings.

  • Form E

    A form used to set out each parties’ finances.

  • Form H

    A from used to set out the legal costs incurred and anticipated for each party.

  • Former Matrimonial Home

    The home the couple resided in when they were married.

  • Freezing Order

    An order that the court can make to prevent a party from moving or dissipating assets.

  • Grounds for Appeal

    The reasons as to why a party is appealing the decision of a lower court to a higher one.

  • Ground for Divorce

    There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

  • Guardian

    A person who represents the interests of the child in court.

  • Habitual Residence

    The place where a person has established a permanent or habitual centre of interest.

  • Hauge Convention on Child Abduction

    A convention signed by around 90 countries in which they agree to enforce rules in relation expediting the return of internationally abducted children.

  • Hearing

    A formal meeting held in court before a judge.

  • Home Rights

    The right of a spouse to live in the matrimonial home regardless of whether they are a named owner on the title of the property. A notice of Home Rights can be applied for to evidence such a right on the property.

  • Injunction

    An order preventing a person from doing something.

  • Intended Parents

    The people who will be the parents of a child born through surrogacy.

  • Interim Order

    An order that sets out what is to happen whilst a case is going though the court.

  • Joint Tenancy

    One of the ways in which people can hold property. In a joint tenancy the interest of the property will pass to the surviving owner(s) upon the death of the other, regardless of any provision in a will.

  • Judicial Officer

    A person appointed to decide cases.

  • Judicial Separation

    An alternative to divorce, it allows the courts to look to help separate the finances of the parties without the marriage legally ending.

  • Jurisdiction

    Relates to which court has the authority to hear a case. It will depend upon the complexity and seriousness of the facts.

  • Legal Aid

    Government financial assistance to people who cannot afford legal representation.

  • Legal Privilege

    The principle that communication between a legal professional and their client is confidential.

  • Leave to Remove

    Permission from the court to take a child out of the country.

  • Life Assurance Policy

    A policy which will be paid out upon death.

  • Litigant in Person

    A party to the case who does not have legal representation.

  • Lump Sum Order

    An order for one party to pay the other a fixed sum.

  • Maintenance

    Regular payments made by one party to another as a financial contribution towards their children. These payments can be formalised in a maintenance order.

  • Matrimonial Property

    Property acquired during a marriage.

  • Mckenzie Friend

    A person who accompanies a party to court to help a litigant in person.

  • Mediation

    A form of alternative dispute resolution in which an independent, neutral third party called a mediator aims to help the disputing parties’ come to an agreed settlement.

  • Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

    A meeting with a qualified mediator in which they assess the suitability of mediation as a vehicle to help resolve the dispute.

  • No Order Principle

    The principle that the court must not make an order unless it is in the best interests of the child.

  • Non-Molestation Order

    An order to prevent a person from being violent, threatening violence or harassing another.

  • Occupation Order

    An order to preventing a person from going home or allowing a person back into the home

  • Order for Sale

    An order that a property is to be sold. It will also lay out how the proceeds are to be dealt with.

  • Overriding Objective

    The most important objective for the court is that cases are dealt with expeditiously, fairly and proportionately. Judges should have regard to this objective at every step in the case.

  • Parental Responsibility

    The rights and responsibilities a parent has for their child.

  • Part 25 Application

    An application to introduce expert evidence.

  • Pension Attachment

    An order that a percentage or lump sum of one party’s pension will go to the other.

  • Pension Sharing Order

    An order that all or some of one party’s pension will be shared with the other.

  • Periodical Payments

    An order that one party pay the other a certain amount for a certain period of time.

  • Petition

    The document used to apply for a divorce.

  • Petitioner

    The person applying for the divorce (also called the applicant).

  • Pre-Nuptial Agreement

    An agreement made between a couple prior to marriage which sets out what will happen to their finances and assets should the marriage break down in the future. They are not currently legally binding but the court will often uphold them.

  • Prohibited Steps Order

    An order relating to children, people apply from them when they want a certain action relating to the child to be prevented.

  • Property Adjustment Order

    An order that one party transfer all or part their interest in a property to the other.

  • Queen’s Counsel

    Barristers and solicitors who have demonstrated excellence in advocacy and have therefore been granted the title of Queen’s Counsel.

  • Questionnaire

    A document which asks further questions/for further clarification on certain points in relation to Form E.

  • Resident Parent

    The parent with whom the child primarily resides.

  • Respondent

    The person who receives the application from the applicant.

  • Schedule of Assets

    A list of a person's assets and liabilities filed with Form E.

  • Seal

    The mark of approval from the court.

  • Specific Issue Order

    An order relating to children that aims to deal with specific problems such as deciding on where a child is to go to school.

  • Special Guardianship Order

    An order for a third party to have parental responsibility for a child. This does not remove parental responsibility from the other parents.

  • Statement

    A party’s written position on the matter.

  • Statement of Issues

    A list of the issues which need to be determined by the court.

  • Statement of Truth

    A solemn declaration that what you are saying is the truth.

  • Statute Law

    Written law passed by Parliament.

  • Supervised Contact

    Contact between a child and a parent or other party which is supervised by another named adult or professional.

  • Tenants in Common

    A way of holding property in which the owners have a specified share each. These shares do not pass to the other owner upon death.

  • Trustee

    A person who manages a trust.

  • Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA)

    The Act that governs disputes relating to property ownership between two unmarried parties.

  • Trust

    A legal relationship in which a trustee holds and controls assets for the benefit of a beneficiary.

  • Undertaking

    A legally binding promise to the court.

  • Unreasonable Behaviour

    One of the five facts of divorce, a petitioner will list the behaviour of the respondent that has made it so that the petitioner cannot be reasonably expected to live with the respondent.

  • Variation

    An application to change the terms of an order.

  • Ward of the Court

    An order which means all decisions relating to a child must be court approved.

  • Welfare Principle

    All decisions made by the court must have the best interest of the child in mind.

  • Without Prejudice

    If a document is marked as such then its contents cannot be referred to within court proceedings.

  • Witness

    A person who gives evidence or makes a statement in court.

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