A

Acknowledgement of Service (‘AOS’)

The form the respondent is required to complete and return to the Court to acknowledge receipt of the Divorce Petition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’)

Ways of resolving disputes without going to Court.

Applicant

The person who makes an application to the Court.

Arbitration

A form of dispute resolution that takes place outside of Court. The parties enter into an agreement to appoint an arbitrator to decide on a dispute and agree to be bound by the decision.

Arbitration Agreement

The binding contract, or agreement, reached at arbitration.

C

Cafcass

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – a representative of Cafcass is usually involved in advising the Court as to the best interests of a child in any Children Act proceedings.

Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (‘CETV’)

The amount your pension would be worth if you were to transfer it, when the pension is not in draw down.

Chattels

Tangible and moveable possessions, such as paintings, furniture or cars, but not real property (e.g. land or buildings) or money.

Child Abduction

The unauthorised removal of a child from the child’s parent or legally appointed guardian.

Child Arrangements Order

An Order setting out with whom the children of the family are to live and when each parent is to have contact.

Child Maintenance Service (‘CMS’)

A government organisation which governs the payment of child maintenance in the UK.

Civil Partnership

A legally-recognised partnership between two people as an alternative to marriage.

Consent Order

An Order to be made by the Court which has been agreed between the parties.

Counsel/Barrister

A lawyer who represents you in Court.

Contested (or defended) Divorce

When the Respondent defends a divorce or cross-petitions the divorce, leading to a more complicated process involving Court hearing(s).

Civil Partnership Act 2004

The Act to which the Court refers in relation to Financial Remedy proceedings on dissolution.

Children Act 1989

The Act under which most applications in respect of children are made.

Clean Break

An Order made by the Court that severs all financial ties and claims between divorcing couples.

Collaborative Law / Collaborative Practice

A non-confrontational approach to settling disputes between parties.

Cohabitation Agreement

An agreement between unmarried couples who live together to regulate their financial affairs and to provide what will happen if they are to separate.

D

Directions

Instructions provided by the Court with which the parties must comply, usually by a certain time and date.

Decree Nisi

The document pronounced by the Court to say it agrees the divorce can proceed.

Decree Absolute

The final document in the process, granting the divorce.

Dissolution

The equivalent of divorce for couples who entered into a civil partnership.

Divorce/Dissolution Petition

The application to apply for divorce or dissolution.

Downward Variation

To vary an Order for maintenance by reducing the amount due under the original Order.

Draw Down

In relation to pensions, this is when the pension is being paid out.

Deed / Declaration of Trust

A binding document executed as a Deed, which records a financial agreement between joint owners of property or anyone who has a financial interest in that property.

F

Final Hearing

The hearing at the end of proceedings at which the judge will make a decision upon the issues at hand (unless the parties can agree a settlement themselves).

Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (‘FDR’)

The negotiations hearing in the middle of the Financial Remedy proceedings. This is a without prejudice hearing to which one cannot refer in Court after the event and about which the Court at a Final Hearing will have no information.

Financial Remedy Proceedings

The process during which the Court deals with financial matters between parties.

First Appointment / First Directions Appointment (‘FDA’)

The directions hearing at the start of the Financial Remedy proceedings.

Form E

The form used in Financial Remedy proceedings to exchange financial information (disclosure) with the other party.

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (‘FHDRA’)

The first hearing after making an application under the Children Act 1989, usually to set directions and consider interim arrangements for the children.

J

Jurisdiction

The official power to make legal decisions.

L

Lawyer

A solicitor, barrister or other legal representative.

Legal Aid

A source of public funding to assist with legal fees for survivors of domestic violence who do not have their own resources.

Litigation

Taking the dispute to Court.

Lump Sum

A single payment of money.

Leave to Remove

Permission granted to a person to legally remove a child or children from the jurisdiction.

M

Matrimonial Assets / Property

Any asset (including savings, property, items of worth) acquired during the marriage.

Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

The Act to which the Court refers in relation to Financial Remedy proceedings on divorce.

Maintenance Pending Suit (‘MPS’)

Interim periodical payments made usually monthly from one party (paying party) to another (receiving party) during ongoing proceedings.

Mediation

A way of resolving disputes between parties by appointing an independent, non-biased, third person, who is trained in mediation (a mediator).

N

Nominal Spousal Maintenance Order

A financial Order made by the Court for the paying party to pay the receiving party a ‘nominal’ amount – usually £1 per annum – which acts as a ‘safety net’ to allow for any future variation application in the event that circumstances change.

Non-matrimonial Assets/Property

Assets that one party acquired prior to the marriage or received by way of inheritance, gifts or savings.

Non-Molestation Order (‘NMO’)

An Order of the Court granted under the Family Law Act 1996, prohibiting the respondent party from causing harm or distress to the applicant party and/or any children, by restricting contact in a number of ways.

O

Order

A binding decision made by the Court on the issues of the case.

Open Correspondence

Correspondence that may be shown to the Court or referred to therein.

Occupation Order

An Order of the Court granted under the Family Law Act 1996, permitting one party to reside in a home (or part thereof) to the exclusion of the other party and that can include how each party is permitted to use the home.

P

Paralegal

A trained legal assistant who is not yet fully qualified.

Particulars

The reasons given in the Divorce Petition/dissolution application for the grounds of divorce/dissolution.

Petitioner

The person who applies for the divorce.

Penal Notice

A warning on a Court Order that, if certain terms of the Order are breached, you could be fined and/or imprisoned.

Pension Attachment Order

A Court Order splitting a pension between the parties when it is already in draw down.

Pension Equivalent Transfer Value (‘PETV’)

The amount that your pension already in draw down would be worth if you were to transfer it.

Pension Sharing Order

A Court Order splitting a pension between the parties when it is not in draw down.

Periodical Payments

Maintenance payments (whether nominal, spousal or child).

Parental Alienation

The unjustified rejection of a parent by a child as a result of the other parent’s psychological manipulation of the child.

Parental Responsibility

Having legal responsibility for the children. This is automatic for a mother and will also be held by a married father, a father named on the birth certificate or an individual granted Parental Responsibility by the Court.

Prohibited Steps Order

A Court Order preventing a parent, carer or guardian from taking certain steps in relation to a child, for example, preventing a parent taking children abroad if there is a risk of abduction.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement (‘pre-nup’)

An agreement entered into before marriage setting out what should happen to the parties’ assets upon divorce and/or separation.

Post-Nuptial Agreement (‘post-nup')

An agreement entered into after marriage setting out what should happen to the parties’ assets up on divorce and/or separation.

Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement (‘pre-cip’)

An agreement entered into prior to a civil partnership setting out what should happen to the parties’ assets up on divorce and/or separation.

Post-Civil Partnership Agreement ('post-cip')

An agreement entered into after a civil partnership setting out what should happen to the parties’ assets up on divorce and/or separation.

R

Respondent

The party against whom the petition is filed.

S

Solicitor

A lawyer who will deal with your case on a day-to-day basis.

Schedule 1 Claim

Part of the Children Act 1989 used by the Court to provide financial remedy for the benefit of children, often used by unmarried couples.

Single Joint Expert

A specific expert (e.g. pension, property, actuary) instructed by both parties in an official capacity to provide a report on a specific issue.

Spousal Maintenance

Periodical payments paid from one party to another.

Single Joint Expert

A specific expert (e.g. child psychologist or family therapist) instructed in an official capacity to provide a joint report on a specific issue.

Specific Issue Order

A Court Order not dealing with children arrangements in general but a particular point in dispute, for example, where a child should go to school.

Separation Agreement

An agreement setting out how practical and financial matters are to be dealt with upon separation, often prior to or instead of a Consent Order.

U

Undertaking

A solemn and binding promise made to the Court with serious consequences for any breach.

Upward Variation

To vary an Order for maintenance by increasing the amount due under the original Order.

W

Without Prejudice

Correspondence, discussions or documents that cannot be relied upon in Court as evidence other than in the middle, negotiations hearing (the FDR).  Note that different rules apply for some types of financial proceedings.

Z

Zonal Order

Part of a Non-Molestation Order prohibiting the respondent party to be within a certain distance (or zone) of the applicant party and/or any children.

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