Glossary of Terms


Legal Definitions

Acknowledgement of Service – this is a form, received by a Respondent, confirming that a divorce petition has been received and filed at court. The Respondent is to complete the form, sign it and return it to the court.

Adjournment – where a court hearing is postponed to another day.

Adultery – a voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other but one of whom at least is a married person.

Advocate – a barrister or a solicitor representing a party in a hearing before a court.

Affidavit – a written statement which is sworn to be true by the person signing it. It is sworn before someone authorised by the court.

Affirm – to solemnly promise to tell the truth. This can also be in the form of an Affidavit.

Ancillary Relief (Financial Orders) – additional claims arising out of a divorce, judicial separation or nullity petition most commonly for financial provision.

Annual Accounts – businesses’ financial details during the year covered by the accounts

Annul – to end an invalid marriage.

Antenuptial Agreement – a legal agreement entered into to regulate the financial affairs between parties before marriage in the event of a future separation or divorce. Commonly referred to as a Pre-Nuptial or Pre-Marital Agreement.

Appeal – a request to challenge and overturn a lower court’s decision.

Articles of Association – documents which sent out the rules of a company.

Asset – is something which is owned, for example, a building, property or cash at the bank.

Assign – to transfer and asset and / or ownership to another person.

Assignment – the formal transfer of rights to an asset to another person.

Assurance – insurance cover, for example, in the event of death.

Balance Sheet – a summary of a company’s financial position.

Barrister – a member of the bar: the branch of the legal profession which has rights of audience before all courts.

Beneficial Interest – where someone has the benefit of a certain asset.

Bigamy – offence committed by someone who is already married but goes through a marriage ceremony with somebody else.

Bonus Shares – this can be free shares that the company offers to shareholders.

Brief to Counsel – a document prepared by a Solicitor which contains the instructions for a Barrister to follow when acting for the Solicitor’s client in Court or providing specialist advice.

CAFCASSChildren and Family Court Advisory and Support Services. Government Agency which looks after the interest of children involved in family proceedings. It works with children and their families, and then advises the courts on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests. CAFCASS only works in the family courts.

Capital Gain – the profit / gain if an asset is sold or disposed of.

Capital Gains Tax – a tax which can be charged on certain capital gains.

Certificate of Incorporation – a certificate to state a company has been incorporated.

Chargeable event – an event which may create a tax liability.

Child – a person under 18 years of age.

Child Abductionthe unauthorised removal of a child from the care of a person with whom he or she normally lives.

Child Arrangement Order – this type of order replaces ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders. This type of order will regulate with whom a child is to live and have contact with any person.

Child Support Agency (CSA) – a government agency responsible for the calculation, collection and payment of child support maintenance.

Child Support Maintenance – the amount of maintenance the parent not living with their child must pay.

Civil Partnership – same sex couples may enter into civil partnerships to create the same rights and obligations as a marriage.

Clean Break – term used when a husband and wife settle their finances on the basis that neither will be able to make any further claim in respect of capital, assets or income by way of maintenance.

Cohabitation – parties living together as husband and wife who are not married.

Common Law Marriage – there is no legal concept of common law marriage however, people still refer to this term when a couple cohabit.

Companies House – the office where company information is held.

Company Secretary – a party appointed by the Directors of a company who is then responsible to ensure compliance with Companies Acts.

Conciliation – A structured process in which parties to a dispute meet voluntarily with one or more impartial third party to help them explore the possibilities of reaching agreement without having the power to impose a settlement upon them, or the responsibility to advise any party individually.

Contact Centre – a supervised venue to support and promote contact between parents, grandparents, guardians and children that do not live together.

Consent Order – an Order of the court setting out the terms of an agreement between the parties.

Contact Order – this is now a child arrangement  order of the court which sets out the contact which a child is to have with a non-resident parent.

Contempt of Court – this is where a party is in breach of a court Order and is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.

Co-Respondent – the person named in the divorce petition as the person with whom the Respondent has committed adultery. It is not necessary for a Co-Respondent to be named.

Corporation Tax – tax which a company pays on profits.

Counsel – a Barrister

Creditor – a person to whom money is owed.

Custody – this term no specifically refers to “residence” i.e. with whom a child lives. There are now ‘child arrangement orders’.

Debt – monies that are owed

Debtor – someone who owes money

Decree Absolute – the final divorce Order which ends the marriage

Decree Nisi – the interim divorce Order

Director – a person who manages a company’s affairs.

Disbursement – a payment made to a professional person for services rendered e.g. barrister, accountant etc.

Divorce – the legal end to a marriage and / or the process to bring about the end of a marriage.

Divorce Petition – the paper to commence the process of divorce to legally end the marriage

Domicile – the country and place which is your permanent home.

Domicile of Choice – a country in which you make a new home intending it to be permanent.

Domicile of Origin – the domicile which a new born child has. This is usually the father’s domicile or, if the father is dead, the mother’s domicile.

Ex –parte – now called “a without notice” application where the application is made to the court without the other party being aware of it.

Expert witness – an expert in a particular field who is to provide a report, opinion or evidence to a court.

Family Court – there is now a single Family Court (previously the County Court or Magistrates’ Court)

Family Division – a section of the high court dealing with Family Law cases.

Final Hearing – The hearing at which the Court will make the final determination in relation to any application before it.

Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing – this hearing takes place within financial proceedings on divorce. It is often referred to as a “FDR” hearing and it is where parties attempt to negotiate a financial settlement before a Judge and with assistance from the Judge. The Judge is privy to without prejudice offers between the parties but the Judge cannot impose a final decision upon them.

First Directions Appointment – First hearing in ancillary relief proceedings (now financial remedy proceedings). The purpose of this hearing is to define the issues, save costs, make directions in relation to the future conduct of the case and, where possible, reach a settlement.

Floating Charge – a charge to provide security for monies lent to a company.

Form A – The application for a financial remedy.

Form E – the statement setting out financial information and documents in support within financial proceedings.

Form H – a statement setting out the legal costs incurred and to be incurred by a party in financial proceedings.

Freezing Order – an Order made by the court to prevent another party from disposing or adversely dealing with assets.

Guardian – a person appointed to look after the interests of a child

Hague Convention – a convention signed by a number of countries to enforce rights of custody and prevent wrongful removal of children.

High Court – consists of three divisions;-

(1) Queens Bench Division
(2) Chancery Division
(3) Family Division.

Injunction – an Order preventing a person from taking a specific step or action.

Joint and Several Liability – two or more people are responsible for repaying a debt.

Judge – a person who is to adjudicate and make a decision in a court case.

Judgment – a decision by a court.

Judicial Separation – The Court approving formal separation of parties to a marriage but not actually dissolving the marriage. Often used when religion will not allow divorce proceedings.

Jurisdiction – where a court has the power to deal with a case and make certain Orders.

Liabilities – the debt that a person or organisation owes to another

Life Assurance Policy – contract between the policy holder and the insurance company often to pay out in the event of death.

Life Assured – the person whose life is assured by the life assurance policy.

Limited Company – a company which has a limited liability

Litigant – a person involved in a court case or legal proceedings

Litigation – the process of taking legal action before a court within proceedings.

Lump Sum Order – in ancillary relief proceedings (financial remedy proceedings) an Order that one party to the marriage pay the other party a fixed sum of money in either one payment or by installments.

Maintenance – child support or monies to be paid to another party / spouse and legally referred to as “periodical payments”.

Maintenance Pending Suit – in financial remedy proceedings a party can apply for interim periodical payments which the court may Order before the conclusion of the proceedings.

Matrimonial Home – the family home where a husband and wife lived together when married.

Mediation – a process before an independent person (and not before a court) where parties attempt to reach an agreement and resolve a dispute.

Memorandum and Articles of Association – the memorandum gives details of the company’s name, its purposes and share capital. The articles set out the members’ rights and the Directors’ powers.

Mortgage – where a property is used as security for a debt

Mortgagee – the lender / organisation which provides the money and which is secured by a mortgage.

Mortgagor – a party who borrows money from the mortgagee

No Order Principle – under s.1 of the Children Act 1989, a court must not make an Order unless it considers that making an Order is in the child’s best interest.

Non-Molestation Order – a type of injunction Order to forbid the other person from using or threatening to use violence and / or from intimidating or pestering another.

Nullity – a void or voidable marriage on the grounds including:-

• at least one of the parties was under age at the time of the marriage
• the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship e.g. brother and sister
• either party was already married
• the parties are not respectively male and female
• a polygamous married outside England and Wales but either party being domiciled in England and Wales
• marriage not consummated due to incapacity of either party or wilful refusal
• either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it whether through duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise.

Oath – swearing the truth of a statement

Occupation Order – an Order regulating occupation of a home. It includes the power to either allow a person back into a home or to exclude a person from a home and/or from a defined area in which the home is included.

Occupational Pension – a pension organised by an employer for employees

Official Solicitor – an officer of the Supreme Court who is invited to act for people who cannot act for themselves for example, children or people who lack capacity.

Order – a direction, instruction or command of the court.

Parental Involvement – there is now a principle of that both parents should be involved in a child’s life following divorce or separation.

Parental Responsibility – all rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to a child and his/her property. For example, determining what school a child should attend, determining a child’s religion, consenting to medical treatment. Married parents have joint parental responsibility. If parents are not married, only the Mother automatically has parental responsibility. However, an unmarried father can acquire parental responsibility in any one of six ways:

1. By being registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate if the child is born after 1st December 2003;

2. By entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother;

3. By applying to court for a parental responsibility Order;

4. By being appointed a guardian either by the mother or by the court, although in these cases the father will assume parental responsibility only on the mother’s death;

5. By obtaining a residence Order from the court;

6. By marrying the mother.

Pension Earmarking – Order in divorce or nullity proceedings allowing the Court to Order the pension scheme of one party to divert a portion of the pension or lump sum to the other party.

Pension Sharing Order – Order in divorce or nullity proceedings allowing the Court to provide that one party’s shareable rights under a pension scheme (which may include any pension, lump sum or gratuity, given on or in anticipation of retirement) be subject to a pension sharing for the benefit of the other party through specifying a percentage value to be transferred. This Order splits the pension before retirement.

Periodical Payments Order – in financial remedy proceedings an Order that either party to the marriage shall make to the other such periodical payments, for such term, as may be specified by the Order.

Petition – A method of commencing proceedings whereby the Order required is expressed as a prayer e.g. in the Divorce Petition a prayer that the marriage be dissolved.

Pre Nuptial Agreement – an agreement entered into between parties before a marriage often to regulate financial affairs should they separate or divorce.

Post Nuptial Agreement – this is similar to a Pre Nuptial Agreement but is entered into during the course of the marriage and not before.

Prohibited Steps Order – an Order made within children proceedings to prohibit or forbid a certain act.

Property Adjustment Order – in the financial remedy proceedings an Order that a party to the marriage shall transfer or settle such property specified in the Order to or for the benefit of the other party or child of the family.

Registrar of Companies – an official in charge of the office who keeps records for registered companies.

Residence Order – There is now a child arrangement order being an order of the court which deal with whom a child should live and spend time with the other parent.

Respondent – a person against whom a legal action is being taken and who responds to it.

Sale of Property Order – in financial remedy proceedings, where a court makes a secured periodical payments order, lump sum order or property adjustment order, it may make further order for the sale of such property as may be specified in the order.

Secured Periodical Payments Order – in financial remedy proceedings an Order that either party to the marriage shall secure to the other to the satisfaction of the Court, such periodical payments for such term as may be specified in the Order.

Section 8 Order – Order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, namely residence order, contact order, prohibited steps order or specific issue order.

Separation – when parties end a relationship and it is not necessarily limited to physical separation.

Share Capital – monies invested in a company by its members.

Share Certificate – a document which certifies how owns shares in a company

Solicitor – a lawyer who advises a party and provides legal advice

Specific Issue Order – an Order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific questions which has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child for example, in relation to name, education, school and so no.

Statement of Arrangements – This is no longer required in divorces (previously it was a form used with the divorce petition when starting this process and where there are children).

Statement of Information – a statement setting out details of parties’ finances in summary form and filed when a Consent Order is lodged at court setting out the terms of a financial settlement.

Tax – monies due to the Inland Revenue and Customs

Transferee – the person who receives e.g. an asset where it is transferred to them

Transferor – the person who transfers e.g. an asset to another person (the transferee).

Trust – a financial arrangement under which a property / asset is held by named people for another party.

Trust Deed – a legal document used for example, to create a trust.

Trustee – a person who holds an e.g. asset on behalf of another party

Undertaking – a formal and binding promise to the court which can be enforced as a contempt of court.

Unreasonable behaviour – behaviour by a married party with whom the other feels it is intolerable

Ward of Court – usually a minor child who is protected by the High Court

Warranty – a term in a contract

Welfare Checklist – under s.3 of the Children Act 1989, where a court is considering whether to make a Section 8 order it is directed to have regard to the following particular circumstances:

• the ascertainable wishes and feeling of the child
• his physical, emotional and educational needs
• the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances
• his age, sex, background, and any other characteristics which the court considers relevant
• any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering
• how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs
• the range of powers available to the court under the Act

Will – a legal document where a person leaves money / assets in the event of death.

Without Prejudice – a document which is marked as so cannot be referred to within court proceedings and is commonly used when a person makes an offer

Witness – a person who makes a statement and / or is to give evidence to a court.