A

Actuary

A business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty.  In divorce proceedings, actuaries are often instructed to produce reports in respect of the parties’ pensions to help the parties ascertain how these ought to be divided.

Affidavit
A statement sworn on oath (on the Bible, Koran or other religious book) as to its truth.

Advocate
A lawyer, either a solicitor or barrister, who speaks on your behalf in court.

Adjournment

The postponement of a court hearing.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Ways of resolving a dispute that do not involve going to court.  This can include mediation, where an independent third party helps guide the parties to a mutually acceptable outcome; arbitration where an independent third party considers the facts and takes a decision that is usually binding on the parties; or a round table meeting where both parties and their legal advisers arrange a meeting and try to negotiate a settlement. ADR can be more cost effective for the parties involved and usually allows disputes to be resolved more amicably.

Ancillary Relief
A term no longer in use which related to financial proceedings and the financial orders which could be made by the court, during or after a divorce. The term now used is financial remedy proceedings.

Applicant
The person who makes an application, whether in relation to children matters, financial matters or injunction proceedings.

Annul
To end an invalid marriage

Appeal

To ask a court to overturn a lower court’s decision.  When a court’s decision is disputed, it may be possible to ask a higher court to consider the case again by lodging an appeal.

Arbitration
Arbitration is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution and involves the parties entering into an agreement under which they appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate their dispute and make an arbitral ‘award’.  That award is legally binding.  

 

B

Beneficial Interest

Even though an asset may be legally owned by one person, the beneficial ownership may vest with somebody else.  For example, a property can be owned by a father but held in trust for his son.

Brief
A document prepared by a solicitor which contains the instructions for a barrister to follow when acting for the solicitor’s client in court.

 

C 

CAFCASS
CAFCASS stands for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.  A CAFCASS Officer may be appointed by the Court to carry out enquiries and make an independent assessment in Children Act proceedings.

Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”)
The CMS is the government body currently responsible for supervising the assessment and payment of child maintenance.

Child Support Agency
The forerunner to the CMS.

Chambers
A term used to describe a barrister’s office.

Child Arrangement Order
An Order introduced by the Child Arrangements Programme 2014 which governs where children will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. Child Arrangement Orders replace orders for contact and/or residence.

Civil Partnership
A legal union between same sex partners

Clean Break
An Order made during/following divorce proceedings bringing all financial claims between spouses to an end.

Cohabitation

An arrangement in which two people who are not married live together.

Cohabitation Agreement

An agreement between partners who live together. The document will generally deal with: (i) who owns what at the time of the agreement; (ii) the financial arrangements the couple have decided to make while living together; and (iii) how their property, assets and income should be divided if they split up.

Collaborative Law

In the collaborative process, the clients and their lawyers work together in a series of meetings to achieve a fair and mutually acceptable solution to the issues in dispute , without threat of Court proceedings.

Counsel

A barrister.

 

D

Decree Absolute
The final decree in divorce proceedings; the final and legal termination of the marriage, which leaves parties free to remarry.

Decree Nisi
A conditional order of the court, issued prior to a decree absolute, indicating that the court is satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been established. One of the parties can then later apply for a decree absolute which will formally end the marriage.

Desertion
A ground for divorce, albeit rarely used. For example, this might cover the situation where one party leaves to work overseas and does not return or where one party walks out and avoids any means of communication. There must be a continuous period of two years before desertion can be used as a ground for divorce.

Divorce
The legal process which ends a marriage.

Deed of Separation
A contract, usually drawn up by a solicitor, which records an agreement reached in respect of financial matters following separation and before divorce.

Dispute Resolution Appointment

The hearing in a children matter following the FHDRA. The court will attempt to narrow the issues and try to encourage the parties to resolve the matter.

District Judge
Usually either a senior solicitor, or barrister, who has been evaluated by the Judicial Appointments Commission as not only having sufficient technical expertise, but an ability to deliver fairness with a degree of professional integrity. Most issues relating to a divorce e.g. money and children, are decided by a District Judge.

Dissolution
A legal process which ends a contract of civil partnership. 

Domicile

The country that person treats as their permanent home, or lives in and has a substantial connection with.

 

E

Form E
A financial statement to be completed in financial proceedings. It is intended to encapsulate everything the court needs to know about that person’s finances – e.g. property ownership, bank accounts, business interests etc.

 

F

Family Court
The Family Court exercises jurisdiction in most family proceedings.

FDR
A Financial Dispute Resolution hearing relates to finances and is a court led attempt to help the parties reach an agreement. The entire hearing is private and if no agreement is reached, the discussions may not be referred to again.

FHDRA
A first hearing in a case relating to children where the Court will try and broker a settlement or set the timetable for the continuation of the case.

Financial Remedy Proceedings
A general term used in the context of financial proceedings and financial orders relating to property, money and pensions within divorce, civil partnership and dissolution or judicial separation. This used to be known as ancillary relief.

Finding of Fact
Usually a preliminary hearing when the court decides whether or not certain facts are proven on the balance of probabilities e.g. whether or not domestic violence or other abuse has occurred.

Former Matrimonial Home

The property that the parties lived in together, whether it was rented or owned.

Freezing Order
A layman’s term for an injunction.  It will stop a party from disposing of money or assets pending a final decision being made by the court about distribution of that money or assets.

 

G

Guardian
An experienced social worker appointed by the court who usually has a legal representative, and provides the court with the views of a child.

 

H

 

I

Injunction
An Order of the Court preventing someone from doing something e.g. disposing of assets, being violent or threatening. Applications for such orders are usually made in an emergency and can be made in respect of property or to protect a person.

 

J

Judicial Separation
A legal process whereby the court approves a separation of parties to a marriage but does not actually dissolve the marriage.

 

K

 

L

Leave to remove
An application by one parent for permission to be move abroad with the children on a permanent basis.

 

M

Mediation

A form of alternative dispute resolution that involves using an independent third party – a specialist family mediator – to help the parties reach an acceptable outcome.

 

N

Non-Molestation Order

A non-molestation order protects you from someone who has harassed, used or threatened to use violence against you or your children.

Nullity
Court proceedings to end a void or voidable marriage e.g. by a failure to consummate the marriage.

 

O

Occupation Order
An Order of the Court granting a party the right to occupy a property to the exclusion of the other party.

 

P

Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility refers to the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has for the child and the child’s property.  A person who has parental responsibility for a child has the right to make important decisions about their care and upbringing. 

Periodical Payments

Money paid to support a spouse and/or children when a marriage or civil partnership has ended, otherwise known as ‘maintenance’.  Spousal periodical payments may be paid for a fixed period of time or indefinitely on what is known as a ‘joint lives basis.’ If spousal maintenance is paid on a joint-lives basis, it will automatically cease upon the re-marriage/civil partnership of the person receiving the maintenance or on the death of either party.

Prohibited Steps Order
An Order of the Court preventing unilateral actions by one parent in relation to a child e.g. changing a child’s school or taking a child abroad on a holiday.

Property Adjustment Orders
A form of order made by the Court where the legal or beneficial ownership of a property is transferred or where the property is sold.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement
A contract entered into in contemplation of marriage, usually to regulate the division of money and assets in the event of later separation or divorce.

Post Nuptial Agreement
A contract entered into following marriage to regulate the division of money and assets in the event of a later separation or divorce.

Pension Sharing Order
An order in divorce or nullity proceedings allowing the court to provide that one party’s shareable rights under a pension scheme be subject to pension sharing for the benefit of the other party through specifying a percentage value to be transferred.

Petitioner
The person who issues divorce proceedings.

Private FDR

Like the FDR , a Private Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (PFDR) provides an opportunity for you to negotiate with the input of a privately appointed Judge .

 

Q

 

R

Resolution

Resolution, which was formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), is an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. Resolution also campaigns for improvements to the family justice system. For more information, please visit: www.resolution.org 

Respondent
The person who responds to proceedings issued at court.

Round Table Meeting

A Round Table Meeting, at which both parties are usually represented, is designed to help you reach an agreement, whether in relation to financial matters or arrangements for the children, following discussion and negotiation .

 

S

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a contract between parties who are married or in a civil partnership regulating their agreement to live apart, obligations to maintain one another and any children of the family, distribution of assets, and arrangements for any children of the family on separation.

Specific Issue Order
An Order made in proceedings relating to children permitting one parent to take a particular step or make a particular arrangement for their children, e.g. to permit a child to attend a specific school.

Spouse

A husband or a wife

Section 25 criteria
A reference to s.25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which sets out a list of the factors that a Judge must consider when making decisions about financial cases.

 

T

TOLATA
A claim under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act is made when parties are not married, but have lived together. There may be a claim against property that the parties lived in, even if not owned in joint names, if the party concerned can show that he/she has contributed financially to that property in some way.

 

U

Undertaking
A promise to the court to do or not to do something which is enforceable by way of a fine or ultimately a committal to prison.

 

V

 

W

Without Prejudice

This is a form of communication between parties relating to the compromise of any dispute to enable them to settle without the need to resort to litigation. The intention is to exclude all negotiations genuinely aimed at settlement from being given in evidence and to encourage parties to resolve their differences by allowing them to speak freely, knowing that without prejudice communications cannot be subsequently disclosed should they fail to settle.

 

X

Xydhias agreement
An agreement in relation to financial matters reached during the course of negotiations, which while not necessarily finalised in all respects is agreed as to the main and principal points and where subsequent disagreement about detail will not enable one party to end the agreement.

 

Y

 

Z