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   C   D   F   H   I   J   L   M   N   P   R   S   T   W

A

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.

C

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.

D

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.

F

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.

H

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.

I

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.

J

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.

L

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.

M

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.

N

Non-Resident Parent

The parent who the child does not live with but may spend significant time with.

P

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.

R

Resident Parent

The parent with whom the child lives.

Respondent

The person who receives the Petition or Application.

S

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.

T

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.

W

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.

Contact our Child Law Solicitors Hampshire, Wiltshire & Surrey

We are a down to earth firm of family law experts, with a friendly, human approach to legal services. We provide fair and workable solutions that put families first, with a particular focus on child law, we advise on all areas of family law, including financial disputes, prenuptials, divorce, separation and dissolution of civil partnerships. We are accredited members of the Law Society Children Panel and Resolution.

For guidance and representation on your family issues, speak to one of our team. Child Law Partnership have offices in Guildford, Basingstoke, Southampton and Salisbury helping families across Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, Reading and the surrounding areas. We offer a fixed fee initial appointment where you can receive full advice with a follow up in writing in order that you can consider your options. Give us a call on 01256630080 or complete our enquiry form.

Child Law Partnership have offices in Basingstoke, Guilford, Southampton and Salisbury serving clients across Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.

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