Acknowledgement of Service – In divorce and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings the form that must be completed by the receiving party to confirm, amongst other things, receipt of the papers and whether or not it is their intention to defend the proceedings
ADR – The abbreviation for Alternative Dispute Resolution. Any other method of resolving a dispute other than legal proceedings. For instance, Mediation or Arbitration
Affidavit – A written statement of evidence which has been sworn on oath to be true
Ancillary relief – An old term for an application for a financial order in divorce proceedings
Answer – A response to divorce proceedings that sets out ones reasons for defending the proceedings
Applicant – Is how the party making an application is often referred to depending on the type of application for instance applications under the Children Act 1989 or for a financial order under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or an injunction under the Family Law Act 1996
CAFCASS – The abbreviation for the Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service
CAFCASS officer – They are officers of the court from CAFCASS who can be tasked with preparing reports on issues relating to children
CAFCASS report – Any report prepared by the CAFCASS officer to assist the court determine some issue between the parties before the court
Certificate of entitlement to a decree – A document produced by the court in divorce proceedings confirming that the issuing party has satisfied the court that they are entitled to a divorce which goes on to set out when Decree Nisi is to be pronounced
CETV – Abbreviation for Cash Equivalent Transfer Value. A means of valuing a person’s pension when a pension sharing order is contemplated.
CMEC – The abbreviation for the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission
Child abduction – The illegal removal of a child from its home, in particular removal from one country to another where the other parent with the right to make decisions about the child has not given their consent
Child of the family – A child who has been treated as a member of the family. It is usually applied to natural children but may include adopted and step children
Child maintenance – An order which is typically made by either the Child Support Agency or, where the person liable to pay it is outside the jurisdiction, under the Children Act 1989 or the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for the payment of money over a period of time for the maintenance of a child
Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission – The body which from 2009/10 provides statutory child maintenance enforcement
Children Act 1989 – Is the Statute under which applications can be made for, amongst other things: Residence and contact, Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders
Child Support Agency – The government agency responsible for the assessment of maintenance for children where both parents are separated and reside in the jurisdiction and the parents cannot agree what should be paid
Civil partnership – The means by which same sex couples formalise their unions in the eyes of the state. Akin to a civil marriage.
Civil partnership orders – An order dissolving a civil partnership
Civil partnership proceedings – Applications for dissolution of a civil partnership. Akin to divorce proceedings for a married couple
Claimant – Is how the party making an application is often referred to depending on the types of proceedings for example a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 or the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Clean break order – In an order of the court that prevent a party in divorce or dissolution from civil partnership from making any further financial claim against the other arising out of the marriage or civil partnership
Cohabitation Agreement – Is a contract that two cohabitees enter into to regulate their financial affairs in the event the relationship breaks down
Cohabitee – Someone with whom one lives with as a couple. Implies, but does not require a sexual relationship. More than mere friends.
Conditional civil partnership order – A pronouncement made in open court by a judge during civil partnership proceedings that advises the world that a same sex couple have satisfied the court that they are entitled to have a civil partnership on subsequent pronouncement of the civil partnership order which either can apply for after the elapse of a further period of time.
Consent application – Typically refers to the process under which one applies to the court on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership for the court’s approval to a financial settlement. Is also used generically for any application to the court for an order when both parties are in agreement.
Consent Order – Typically refers to the order of the court that results from the making of a consent application
Contact activity directions – Orders of the court requiring a parent to take part in an activity that will promote contact with a child. For example: parenting programmes and anger management classes.
Contact order – An order of the court that dictates with whom a child should have contact and the amount and duration of that contact
Contempt of Court – If a person is held in contempt of court they are opening oneself up to a punishment which could include a fine and or imprisonment. Any sentence made can be suspended in appropriate cases
Contempt proceedings – A type of court proceedings where it is alleged that a party has been disrespectful to a judge for instance where a party, having given an undertaking to the court, has then breached that. If contempt is found proven then a person can be fined and or imprisoned.
Co-Respondent – A person named in a divorce petition as having committed adultery with the Respondent.
Costs – The legal expenses of the proceedings
CSA – The abbreviation for the Child Support Agency
Decree Absolute – A pronouncement of the court in open court by a judge that concludes the divorce proceedings and means a married couple can now be said to be divorced
Decree Nisi – A pronouncement made in open court by a judge during divorce proceedings that advises the world that a couple have satisfied the court that they are entitled to have a divorce on subsequent pronouncement of the Decree Absolute which either can apply for after the elapse of a further period of time.
Direct contact order – A type of contact order which allows for either face to face or telephone contact between parent and child. Such contact is normally unsupervised but in appropriate circumstances can be supervised.
Disclosure – In family proceedings usually refers to the process in divorce and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings under which one is required to tell the other party about ones own financial circumstances
Discovery – Showing the other party documents relevant to the proceedings
Dissolution of a civil partnership – The means by which lesbian and gay couples formerly dissolve civil partnerships
Divorce – The means of formerly dissolving a marriage
Domestic violence – violence within the family context. Includes any act in which one party seeks to dominate or control another. Includes actions likely to cause physical, sexual and psychological harm
Domicile – The country which a person regards as their home country whether or not they are actually living there
Duty of disclosure – In proceedings for a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership refers to the obligation both parties are under to make disclosure of their respective financial circumstances. It is an ongoing duty and applies throughout the proceedings to their current financial circumstances but also to expected changes to their financial circumstances that they can foresee happening in the future.
Duxbury fund – A lump sum payment intended to provide an income for a certain number of years, often for the rest of the recipients expected life
Enforcement order – An order made in proceedings under the Children Act 1989 imposing a requirement that the named person undertake an unpaid work requirement of between 40 and 200 hours on a parent found to be in breach of a contact order
Family Law Act 1996 – Is the Statute under which certain associated people (including spouses and cohabitees) can apply for injunctions to protect themselves. There are principally two types of injunctions: non molestation injunctions and occupation orders
FDA – Abbreviation for First Directions Appointment
FDR – Abbreviation for Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing
Final hearing – Any hearing when the judge hears the evidence, submissions from each party and determines a substantive issue in the case. Whilst in most cases there will only be one final hearing, there may be a number of such hearings for instance one to determine the arrangements for a child’s care and the contact with the non resident parent or to determine the financial consequences of the breakup of a marriage or civil partnership
Final order – Is the order the finally determines the substantive matters in issue between two people or parties. Also known as a Substantive order
Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing – Sometimes abbreviated to FDR. Where there are proceedings before the court on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership is a hearing before a judge specifically intended to help parties to a negotiated settlement if at all possible. Parties can make representation to the judge about their case – but importantly there is no hearing of evidence – and the judge can help the negotiations by giving indications as to what might happen if the matter went to a final hearing. Importantly the proceedings are said to be “without prejudice” meaning that the discussions cannot be referred to at the Final Hearing. If agreement is forthcoming the judge can make a final order determining matters there and then. If agreement cannot be reached then the judge will make such directions as are necessary to get the case ready for trial and will then recues themselves from any further involvement in the case.
Financial Order – Refers to the financial remedies that are available to couples who are divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership and include, amongst other things: maintenance orders; lump sum orders; property adjustment orders; pension sharing orders and pension attachment orders
Finding of Fact hearing – Is a hearing that is sometimes listed at the early stages of children proceedings where progress in the case will be hampered if the court does not get to grips with the facts behind the dispute. Usually made where grave allegations that go to the heart of a case are made by one party to the proceedings.
First Directions Appointment – Sometimes abbreviated to FDA. Where court proceedings have been issued, the first on notice hearing before the court in children proceedings and applications for financial orders on divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. An opportunity for the court to get to grips with the issues and, if settlement cannot be agreed at that hearing, for the court to make directions (including the filing of evidence) regarding the further progress of the case
Form E – Is the name of the court form under which parties are expected to make disclosure of their financial circumstances in proceedings for a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
Former matrimonial home – refers to the parties’ home immediately prior to separation.
Freezing injunction – An order of the court freezing bank accounts and/or preventing a party from disposing of an asset. Can in exceptional circumstances cover assets worldwide.
Guardian – Has differing definitions in different contexts. In children proceedings they could be an officer from CAFCASS, someone from NYAS, an independent lawyer or social worker whose role is to befriend the child who is the subject of the order with a view to representing their wishes and feelings to the court
Habitually residence/habitual resident – The country in which a person lives. Can sometimes be more than one country
Hague Convention – Is the name for an international treaty entered into in 1980 by which England and Wales agreed with a number of other countries to return children who were either wrongly removed from or wrongly retained away from the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the wrongful removal or retention.
Hague Convention Cases – Refers to cases made under the Hague Convention
Harassment – Any unwanted behaviour that leads to or has potential to cause a person alarm or distress
Indirect contact order – A type of order for contact that falls short of face to face or telephone contact. Typically these allow for correspondence to be sent from a parent to a child which would include birthday and Christmas cards. Can sometimes include the sending of photographs.
Injunction – A court order that forbids a person from doing a particular act
Inspection appointment – A hearing to require someone other than a party to the proceedings to produce relevant documents
Interim order – Is an order that is made pending the final determination of a particular issue. Can be likened to inviting the court to adopt a holding position for instance whilst further enquiries are made and a final hearing can take place
Interim contact hearing – Is an order of the court that requires the parent with residence of a child to make that child available to see the other parent whilst other investigations are ongoing
Interim maintenance – Is an order of the court requiring the payment of money over a period of time pending the determination of an application for a Financial Order
Intestacy – Legal rules that set out where a deceased person’s property when they do not have a will
Joint lives maintenance order – Is a form of maintenance order which might be expressed to be payable until death, remarriage, or cohabitation. It is otherwise akin to an open ended commitment where the onus is then placed on the payor on a variation application to satisfy the court that the recipient can do without it.
Joint tenancy – A form of ownership of property where if one dies the survivor will continue to own the entire property
Jurisdiction – The authority of the court to make a decision on a particular issue
Letters of Request – Are letters that a party can invite senior judges in England & Wales write judges in certain foreign jurisdictions requesting them to do a particular act, usually to compel someone or some trust or company in their jurisdiction to disclose information and or documentation
Litigation – Work done in court or in contemplation of court proceedings
Lump sum by instalments – The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 used to permit only a single lump sum at the conclusion of proceedings. The courts have historically got around that by saying that they will make a single amount payable but over a period of time which might require a number of instalments. The instalments do not need to be equal amounts
Lump sum on account of costs – Is an order that can be made requiring one party to make a payment or payments to the other party on account of their solicitors costs to assist them to fund their case pending its final determination
Lump sum order – An order of the court made at the conclusion of proceedings for a financial order within divorce and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings for the payment as it says of a sum of money from one party to the other. Only one such order can be made, although its payment can sometimes be made by instalments
Maintenance order – An order of the court that dictates a person to pay money for a particular period of time for the maintenance of another. Can be broken down further into child maintenance and Spousal maintenance depending on who the recipient is
Maintenance pending suit – Is a type of maintenance order made during the proceedings that requires a person to pay a regular sum of money to the other party that lasts until the substantive case has been determined. Can, in appropriate cases, also include an allowance to enable the recipient spouse pursue their claim
Marriage – The means by which heterosexual couples formalise their relationship in the eyes of the state.
Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 – Is the Statute under which applications marriage, divorce and civil partnerships are regulated and under which applications for financial orders can be made on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
Mediation – A process in which a couple undertake together to encourage a couple to reach agreement about either the arrangements for a child or the financial consequences of the breakdown of a relationship
Mirror orders – Orders obtained in one country reproducing orders made by the courts in another
Non molestation injunction order – An order of the court that directs a person not to use or threaten violence against another person or to harass pester or otherwise interfere with them
Non resident parent – The parent with whom a child does not live
Notice – A formal notification of some step taken or to be taken in the proceedings
Notice of proceedings – Formal notification that proceedings have been issued
Nullity – A declaration that no legal marriage ever existed between the parties
NYAS – Abbreviation for National Youth Advocacy Service. They are a charity offering information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to young children and vulnerable young adults
Occupation order – An order of the court that directs a person to leave a property, and having done so not to return to enter or attempt to enter the said property. Can in some circumstances regulate the occupation of the property or exclude someone from an area around a property
On Notice application – Is any application to the court which is required to be served on the other party before it can be proceeded with
Order for costs – An order of the court that when made can direct one party pay the others solicitors costs.
Overnight contact – Is a type of contact order that allows a child to stay overnight at the non-resident parents’ house. Also known as staying contact.
Parent with care – The parent with whom a child resides
Parental Responsibility – It is a legal term that refers to all the rights, duties, responsibilities and authority that a parent has in respect of a child. The birth mother automatically has it. Fathers did not always automatically acquire it. For children born before December 2003 father’s acquired it if they were married to the Mother or subsequently married them; they entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or they got a Parental Responsibility Order from the court. For children born after December 2003 fathers can additionally acquire Parental Responsibility if they are registered on the child’s birth certificate.
Paternity test – An order of the court that requires those named to make themselves available to give a DNA sample that when analysed can determine whether a particular person is a child’s parent
Penal notice – A formal warning from the court advising that a breach of the order may result in committal to prison
Pension attachment order – Is an order of the court made at the conclusion of proceedings for a financial order within divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings which can require that when the member retires that a percentage of the tax free lump sum or the monthly pension income be paid to the other party
Pension offsetting – Taking a lump sum in lieu of one’s potential claim to a claim to a pension sharing or attachment order
Pension sharing order – Is an order of the court made at the conclusion of proceedings for a financial order within divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings which requires the member of the pension scheme to pay some or all of the value of the pension to the other party
Periodical payments order – Refers to maintenance.
Petitioner – Is how the party applying making an application is often referred to depending on the type of proceedings for example for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
Post nuptial Agreement – Is a contract entered into by parties already party to a marriage or civil partnership to regulate their financial affairs in the event the relationship breaks down
Pre-action protocols – Rules about how parties are supposed to approach matters before court proceedings are issued
Pre-nuptial Agreement – Is a contract entered into by parties who intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership that regulates their financial affairs in the event the marriage or civil partnership breaks down
Privilege – Is the right in certain circumstances to protect communications from disclosure in proceedings. Legal professional privilege usually covers communications between the client and their legal advisors but can also sometimes cover communications with third parties in the preparation and conduct of their case in the context of actual or contemplated litigation
Production Appointment – Is an appointment before a judge where a party or sometimes a third party to proceedings can be required to attend court and produce certain documents to the judge
Prohibited steps order – An order of the court that bars a parent or another person from conduct relating to a child. In appropriate cases it could prevent a person coming into contact with a named child; anyone removing a named child from a particular place of residence or from changing schools
Property Adjustment order – Is an order of the court made at the conclusion of proceedings for a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership requiring the transfer of the property owned by the parties into one party’s sole name or a sale of the property and division of the proceeds
Protection from Harassment Act 1996 – Is the Statute under which people who may not be connected for the purposes of the Family Law Act 1996 can apply for injunctions to protect themselves.
Questionnaire – In the context of proceedings for a financial order on either divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership refers to the document in which a party makes a request of the other for further information and or documentation which the court can then direct the recipient respond to
Residence order – An order of the court which dictates whom a child is to reside with
Respondent – Is how the party responding to or defending an application is often referred to
Safeguarding report – Standard checks that CAFCASS undertake of, amongst other, the police and social services at he start of proceedings under the Children Act 1989
School fees order – Is an order the court can make requiring a party to pay all or a proportion of private nursery or school fees. It can also cover university fees. Can also cover extras like school uniforms, books and stationary and school trips etc
Search order – Refers in proceedings for a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership to the court’s power to force a party to disclose or preserve documentary or real evidence. Akin to a search warrant made in criminal proceedings. Only made in exceptional cases where there is an extremely strong case of vital evidence being destroyed or otherwise disposed of that would potentially prejudice the other party’s case and defeating justice. Normally also applied for with an application for a freezing injunction
Section 25 criteria – Refers to the checklist of factors to be taken into account by the court at section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 when determining an application for a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
Separation Agreement – A document setting out terms on which parties agree to do when they separate. Are indicative of what parties have agreed for the purposes of divorce proceedings but do not necessarily bind a subsequent divorce
Set aside – To cancel a judgement or step taken in the proceedings
Single joint expert – Refers to any expert appointed jointly by the parties, and at joint expense, to report on a particular issue in the proceedings. For instance a surveyor to value a property, or an accountant to value a shareholding in a company or an actuary to value benefits under a pension scheme. In children cases might include the appointment of a psychiatrist or psychologist to look into a person’s mental health
Shared Residence order – Is a type of order where, as is suggested by the title, a child’s care is shared between its parents. Whilst it means that no one parent has residence and it thereby implies equality of status such orders rarely pre-suppose an equal sharing of a child’s time with each parent.
Solicitor for the child – A solicitor appointed by the court specifically to represent the interests of the child in certain children cases
Specific issue order – An order made in proceedings under the Children Act 1989 determining a specific question in relation to a child. For example a dispute about their name or where they go to school
Statement of issues – A document setting out a party’s case on the outstanding issues of disagreement in the case
Statement of open proposals – A document setting out what it is that both parties are asking the judge to do when determining the case
Supervised contact order – A type of contact order where a third party oversees the contact that takes place between the parent and child. Ideally it will be someone already known to the child but this is not always appropriate and in those circumstances the contact might happen at a “contact centre”.
Spouse – The person one is married to or in a civil partnership with
Staying contact – Is a type of contact order that allows a child to stay overnight at the non-resident parents’ house. Also known as overnight contact
Tenancy in common – A form of property ownership in which separate shares are agreed that also means that if one party dies the other does not automatically inherit
The Red Book – The colloquial name for The Family Court Practice published each year by Family Law that contains, amongst other things, the relevant law and procedure for the practice of family law in England and Wales
Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 – The Statute under which people can apply for, amongst other things, for declarations as to their interests in property and/or for orders for sale where they are not divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership
Undertaking – Is a binding promise to the court that when given can, if there is a proven breach, lead to the giver to be punished by the court for contempt of court
Unless order – An order of the court that requires a party to do a particular act and warning that if that act ordered is not complied with that party will be prevented from pursuing some other aspect of their case
Unpaid work requirement – An order of the court which can be imposed by way of enforcement on a party that has not complied with an earlier contact order
Unsupervised contact order – An order for contact that does not require contact to be overseen by a third party.
Variation application – In the context of financial proceedings refers to any application where one party wants to change the terms of the original order because their circumstances have changed in some way from those at the time of the original order was made. As distinct from an appeal which refers in the main to where one seeks to challenge the original order because of an irregularity in the original proceedings. Regularly used in the context of application to change the amount or duration of a maintenance order or a lump sum order payable by instalments
Void marriage – A marriage that is not valid and cannot be recognised by the court
Voidable marriage – A marriage that is missing one or more elements of a marriage but may be recognised by the court if the court considers it just to do so
Warning notice – A statement attached to a contact order explaining tat the instructions contained in the order must be complied with and of the possible consequences of a failure to comply. Similar to a penal notice
Welfare checklist – Refers to the checklist of factors to be taken into account by the court at section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 when determining many applications under the said Act.
Without notice application – Is any application to the court that the other party has not been given prior notice.