Cutting The Jargon

Using legal terms is often unavoidable when working on a case. To make the processes involved more understandable for our clients, we have compiled a ‘cutting the jargon’ glossary. If there is anything you are still unsure of, please just ask.

Legal Terms

Using legal terms is often unavoidable when working on a case. To make the processes involved more understandable for our clients, we have compiled a ‘cutting the jargon’ glossary. If there is anything you are still unsure of, please just ask.

A Section 28 (1A)
Bar This refers to spousal maintenance limited for a certain period of time, during which time the recipient is prevented from applying for an extension of that order.

Acknowledgment of Service
A form that confirms the receipt of the Divorce Petition, which is submitted to the Court.

Answer
This refers to the response to a Divorce Petition when the divorce is defended by the recipient.

Applicant
This refers to the person making the initial application to the Court for an Order.

CAFCASS
Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

Care Order
An order made in care proceedings placing a child in the care of a Local Authority and giving it parental responsibility which it will share with the child’s parents.

Care Proceedings
Care proceedings are when Children’s Services asks the court to look at your child’s situation. They decide if your child needs a Court order to keep them safe. Your child’s social worker will do this if they think that your child cannot remain safely at home.

Child Arrangements Order
This refers to an order stating with whom a child is to live, spend time, or otherwise have contact; and when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.

Child of the Family
The biological child of both parties or a child who has been treated by both as their child.

Child of the Marriage
The biological or adopted child of both parties.

CSA/Child Maintenance Service
A Government organisation that ensure payment of Child Support.

Children’s Guardian
An officer of CAFCASS (see above) appointed by the court to represent children in care proceedings.

Clean Break
The court order which completely ends any financial obligations towards the former spouse.

Collaborative Law
A family law process enabling couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and, on occasion, other family professionals. The aim is to avoid the uncertain outcome of Court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of contested litigation.

Conciliation Appointment
A meeting between the parents of a child, the Judge and the CAFCASS representative to discuss solutions for the child. All parties must reach an agreement, or the Judge will determine the future arrangements

Consent Order
An order of the Court that sets out an agreement between the parties.

Co-Respondent
This refers to the person outside the marriage who has committed adultery with the Respondent. It is not necessary to name this person in the Divorce Petition.

Costs
The legal expenses of a case.

Decree Absolute
The final Divorce Decree, confirming the complete dissolution of the marriage, leaving both parties free to remarry.

Decree Nisi
The first Divorce Decree where one person (the Petitioner) confirms that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Directions
An order from the Court that confirms the actions that you must take before the next stage in the hearing.

District Judge
A full time Judge who will normally hear cases regarding private disputes between individuals such as finances following a diovrce, private children disputes, injunction applications and other civil applications.

Family Court
The court which deals with all family cases. Cases may be heard by Circuit Judges, District Judges or Magistrates.

Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR)
The second Court hearing in an application for a financial order where the Judge considers the financial offers made to date and suggests the likely outcome of the case as a result of those offers. If an agreement is not reached at that hearing.

Financial Order
The name given to financial orders made within divorce proceedings as part of the financial settlement.

First Appointment
The first Court hearing before the FDR, in which the judge determines what financial documents both parties must produce and the time scale in which they have to do so.

Form E
A Form used in financial proceedings to provide full and frank financial disclosure. Often also completed on a voluntary basis to aide in negotiations to try and agree a settlement without the need for contested proceedings.

Freezing Order
A Court Order which prevents a party from moving or disposing of their assets (including assets abroad) until further notice.

High Court
The highest tier of Court that deals with family law cases in the first instance. Hearings take place in front of a very experienced Judge. Appeals are to the Supreme Court.

Injunction
An Order from the Courts which highlights an action that is required or forbidden from one or both parties.

Interim Order
An Order put in place before a final Order is established.

Interim Maintenance/Maintenance Pending Suit
Interim payments given to a former spouse during the court proceedings, until the final order is determined.

Issuing
The process of stamping the initial document and paying the fee, when a formal application for an Order is presented at Court, signifying the start of proceedings.

Joint Tenancy
The definition of joint ownership of land or property where both parties maintain an indistinct share. In the event of death of one tenant, the entire property passes to the survivor, overriding any Wills that are in place.

Legal Aid
This provides help with payment of legal costs from the Government in a limited number of family cases usually where a Local Authority is involved in proceedings concerning children. It is usually Means tested except where the Local Authority brings care proceedings when it is free for parents or others with parental responsibility for the child. It is only available in very limited circumstances in other family cases.

Lump Sum Order
An Order in which the Court orders a payment of a lump sum to the other party, within a time frame. Interest is sometimes due on late payments.

Maintenance
Regular payments given to an ex-partner.

Matrimonial Proceedings
An application for a divorce, decree of nullity, dissolution decree or decree of judicial separation.

Mediation
A process in which an independent third party will assist the couple in negotiating an agreement relating to the children or finances.

MIAM
This is short for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. It is a short meeting conducted by a trained mediator who will assess whether mediation is appropriate in the circumstances. It is a requirement for a person to attend a MIAM before making particular types of applications to the Court.

Non-Resident Parent
The parent who the child does not live with but may spend significant time with.

Parental Responsibility
The rights to make both major and day to day decisions in respect of a child.

Pension Sharing
An order setting out specific percentages for a pension to be divided between two spouses.

Pension Attachment (formerly known as Earmarking)
An order for a percentage of one spouse’s pension benefits to be paid to the other spouse. Rarely used now as Pension Sharing is preferred.

Periodical Payments
Another name for Maintenance payments.

Petition
A form to apply for divorce, nullity, dissolution or judicial separation.

Petitioner
The person initially starting the proceedings for divorce, nullity, dissolution or judicial separation.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement
An agreement put in place and signed by both parties, in the unforeseen event of a marriage breakdown, highlighting their intended financial consequences should divorce occur.

Prohibited Steps Order
A Court Order put in place to prevent any named person from taking a specific action, such as removing a child from the country without getting the court’s permission.

Private Law
The law that deals with private family disputes where the Local Authority is not involved.

Public Law
The law that deals with family disputes concerning children where the local authority is involved.

Public Law Outline [PLO] Meeting
When social workers are concerned about the welfare of a child, they may think about taking the case to court, so that they can ask the court to make orders to protect the child. In most cases, the Public Law Outline requires the Social Services department to arrange a meeting with the parent(s) to see if it is possible to reach agreement about what needs to happen to protect the child from harm so that court proceedings can be avoided.

Property Adjustment
A Court Order transferring one party’s financial share of a property to the other.

Resident Parent
The parent with whom the child lives.

Respondent
The person who receives the Petition or Application.

Section 25 Factors
The issues which the Judge takes into consideration when making an order dealing with the matrimonial finances.

Separation Agreement
An agreement detailing specific terms on which the parties agree to separate. The court is not bound by such agreements. However, will take them into consideration when making a final Order.

Specific Issue Order
A Court Order resulting from a problem that has arisen regarding any aspect of parental responsibility, for example, changing the child’s school.

Spouse
A wife or husband.

Supervision Order
This is an order made by the court in public law children proceedings. It does not give the Local Authority parental responsibility but provides that Social Services should advise, assist and befriend a child. The order lasts for 12 months but can extend on application to the Court for a maximum period of 3 years.

Tenancy in Common
The term for when the parties have separate shares in a property. Unlike joint tenancy, in the event of the death of one tenant, their share will not pass on to the survivor but instead will form part of their estate; it is imperative to have an up-to-date Will.

Term Maintenance
Maintenance payments which are limited for a fixed period.

Threshold Criteria
The test which must be satisfied before the Court that can make a care or supervision order in favour of the local authority. The Local Authority has to prove that: the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm and that this is because of the care being given or likely to be given by the parent falling below a reasonable standard, or that the child is beyond parental control.

Without Notice Application
A Court application that enables only one party the opportunity to present their case to the court.

Without Prejudice
Certain correspondence, for example, an offer, that you cannot mention in evidence.

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Top 10 Tips for Family Law Clients

Here are our top 10 Tips to reduce stress and get the best outcome during your family law issue.

1. Start as you mean to go on

Relationship breakdowns can be stressful for all. You should take legal advice as early on as possible so that you can focus on resolving issues. It is better for all to be as calm and focused as possible rather than let resentment guide you. If you start off this way then hopefully this can continue throughout your case to help achieve a swift and successful resolution.

2. Be open and honest

In all your dealings, you should be open and honest. Hiding information only results in increased costs and animosity as well as lengthier disputes. Everything always comes out in the end and depending on your situation you could find yourself not just worse off but having to pay the costs of your ex-partner.

3. Be respectful of all involved

It can be difficult to be respectful towards someone who has hurt you. However, if you are rude or difficult then this will not make your ex-partner inclined to negotiate. Seeking revenge can often be self- destructive. If there are children involved you will have to deal with your ex-partner in the future and a hostile relationship will make co-parenting very difficult.

4. Consider long term and short term

Some of your long and short-term goals may be the same but often what you need now will not help you in the future. Often people are not concerned with their pensions now but when they retire it is most people’s only source of income. Equally what you arrange for the children now will not likely affect you when they are adults. By considering both points of view it can help you walk away with a result that works both now and in the future.

5. Put the children first

In any case where there are children involved then their welfare should be the first thing to consider when you are making decisions. Children are often those most affected by family breakdowns and will remember their experience for the rest of their lives. The Court considers the children’s welfare to be vital in any case where they are involved and so should you.

6. Pick your battles

Resolving issues whether big or small is the only way to reach a settlement. When you fail to resolve the issues you will likely end up in expensive, stressful and costly contested Court proceedings. Is it worth arguing over the toaster when you are also trying to negotiate on what share of your Husband’s pension you will have? Equally, consider if it is worth arguing over the fact that on one occasion the children were handed over 5 minutes late if you are trying to secure overnight contact. Consider where it is best to exert your energy and spend your legal costs.

7. Look forward not back

Look towards when your case will be over and you can move on. If you spend your case focussed on the actions of the past and attempting to allocate blame for the relationship breakdown then this will hamper your ability to negotiate successfully. Calculating the exact number of minutes of contact you are ‘owed’ from the last two years or producing bank statements of who has bought what share of the groceries will not help your case. Look at what outcome you want and work towards that rather than trying to punish your ex-partner for the past.

8. Consider settlements

If an offer to settle is received you should consider this carefully. Often offers made will not be acceptable, at least initially. Focus on the positive and consider your options carefully. Blunt rejection of offers to settle can often inflame matters however if you accept an offer without fully considering it then you may find yourself worse off. Equally, you should not delay when considering offers as most have a time limit attached.

9. Consider all the options

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Often the best thing is not running off to Court. We will always help you to consider your options, sometimes the best option can be to wait and see how things evolve. Equally sometimes you need to take action quickly. Not everything requires a shirty letter or a Court application. Considering all the options can help you make calm decisions in the best interests of you and your family.

10. Don’t assume that what works for someone else will work for you

Each case is different. Relationships break down for different reasons and everyone has different finances. What is appropriate for a family with children is not the same for a couple without. Equally one parent staying at home with the children whilst the other works will impact a case differently than if both parents work full time. Whilst you may know others who have been through a similar experience remember that what worked for them will not necessarily work for you.

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