Legal Lingo

Glossary of legal terms.

The form which accompanies the Divorce Petition which is sent to the Respondent by the court. The purpose of the form is to show that the Respondent has received the Divorce Petition.

A person who has legally adopted a child.

A document which or affirmed that they believe that the contents are true or the document is sworn on oath to show that the contents of the Affidavit are true.

Alternatives to court litigation, such as mediation. These procedures are usually less costly and can be dealt with more quickly than litigation.

The old term for financial remedy proceedings, used to describe financial matters connected to divorce proceedings when parties have assets to be negotiated as part of divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings.

The person who starts court proceedings.

Items owned such as a building, a vehicle or money in the bank.

The Children and Family Court Advisory Service.  The independent organisation which assist the court when an application is made to court in relation to children. For example when applying for a Residence order to determine where children should live if it is not agreed between the parties.

A note which can be put on the Property register which states a person’s interest in a property and gives the person who registers the charge protection. The same way a bank will register the mortgage as a charge on the property register.

Child abduction happens when a parent or a relative or someone acting on their behalf removes, retains, or conceals a child, under the age of 16, in breach of the other parent’s rights.

Financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs when the parents have separated. The parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the child pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does.

A child who is under 16 or under 18 and in full time education.

The Children Act 1989 is a piece of legislation relating specifically to children, aimed at ensuring that children are protected and their welfare promoted.

Describes a person who is in a same sex/ homosexual relationship and has had a Civil Partnership ceremony. This term is the equivalent of ‘spouse’ for heterosexual married couples.

The equivalent of marriage for same sex couples, a civil partnership gives civil partners a range of legal rights and remedies upon dissolution of a civil partnership.

Otherwise known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme . This is a scheme allowing the Police to disclose information about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts, named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her former partner who had a history of violence against women.

An order which severs the right to claim against the other party in divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings. Financial obligations and responsibilities are dismissed by agreement when both parties agree to the order.

Describes parties who live together but are not married or Civil Partners. Cohabitants do not have the same rights to financial relief as married couples or Civil Partners. A means of protecting Cohabitants rights can be protected through Civil Partnership Agreements .

The term used to describe two parties who are living together but have not entered a formal arrangement such as marriage or civil partnership.

A Consent Order is the legal document by which financial matters are finalised on divorce. Without this, you are vulnerable to your partner making a financial claim years later.

A different term for a Barrister.

This is when the Respondent argues different grounds for the divorce from those of the Petitioner.

The order which is the official point at which a marriage or Civil Partnership is ended through divorce proceedings.

An order which is granted by the court to show the party applying for a divorce is entitled to a divorce. It is the order which confirms that the court is satisfied that the Petitioner has proved the contents of the divorce petition and there is no reason why the party applying for a divorce or a civil partnership cannot apply for the Decree Absolute.

A deed poll is an expression often used to describe a Change of Name Deed. It is evidence of the person’s intention to be known by a new name.

The stage in the divorce proceedings when the Judge considers the petition and the affidavit in support of the petition. The Judge can ask for further information to be provided before a decree nisi is pronounced.

In financial remedy proceedings parties must give what is called full and frank disclosure. This is an ongoing obligation and means parties must make the other party aware of and share all information relating to their finances, such as bank accounts and assets to allow negotiations to be fair to try and reach a settlement for finances without issuing court proceedings in relation to finances.

The equivalent to a divorce for parties who are getting a divorce. The same ground applies; the Civil Partnership must have irretrievably broken down.

This can affect men, women and children and is not limited to physical abuse. Domestic abuse includes verbal and psychological abuse. It can also include controlling behaviour such as controlling the victims behaviour and or finances. Domestic abuse can be addressed if necessary through a Non-Molestation Order.

The place where a person lives and permanently resides, normally it is where a person is born.

The value of money left in a property or asset once all debts and mortgages have been deducted or paid.

A hearing which does not give or determine the end outcome in proceedings but a Judge or independent person will decide whether an event is fact.

The second stage in financial remedy proceedings when a Judge will look at the offers put forward by both Applicant and Respondent.

A general term for the possible financial orders that a Court can make.

The first stage in financial remedy proceedings when a Judge will provide their opinion on what they think is needed to progress the financial proceedings, an example of which is further information or obtaining a valuation of an asset or property.

A marriage where one or both of the parties do not consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used, including physical, psychological or emotional abuse.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders are like Injunctions and can be granted to prevent a client being forced into a marriage in the UK or abroad, and also after a forced marriage has taken place to protect the client if he or she then wants to leave the forced marriage.

The document which parties in financial remedy proceedings complete to set out their current financial position, including income, outgoings, assets and debts.

The document which parties in financial remedy proceedings complete to set out their current financial position, including income, outgoings, assets and debts.

Another term for a Non-Molestation Order. An order which prohibits the Respondent from doing something or a certain action; for example using violence against a person. Penalties available for breach of such an order include a possible fine, imprisonment or both.

A  way of having an interest in a property. Holding the legal interest in the property this way means that the parties legal interests are equal. If one person died the surviving party would automatically inherit the other person’s interest.

A decision made by a Court following consideration of the facts and evidence in the case.

This is not a divorce. The parties remain married and cannot remarry another person, but it has the effect that the courts can offer the same financial remedies which it can in divorce proceedings and in terms of a will; the spouse would not be automatically entitled to the deceased spouses estate.

Jurisdiction is:

  • the territory in which a court can operate
  • the power it has to deal with particular cases
  • the power it has to issue orders.

A single payment of money as opposed to a period of payments over a set or specified period of time. This is often made through the sale of a property.

Money paid by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse. Child maintenance; meaning money to provide for a child.

An order to support one spouse or civil partner by the other spouse during ongoing divorce proceedings. This is a form of temporary maintenance whilst financial negotiations/ proceedings are ongoing.

A property where a married couple or Civil Partners live. The Property can be  owned or rented.

A negotiation to resolve differences that is conducted by an impartial party to assist families when their has been a breakdown in relations in relation to divorce, finances or children matters pertaining to contact or residence.

The person borrowing, taking out the mortgage.

The lender, normally a bank or mortgage company.

An order obtained to protect a person who has been subjected to domestic abuse.

A court order which specifies who can and cannot enter and stay in a property.

The term used to refer to the rights and responsibilities in respect of children. Mothers automatically acquire Parental responsibility; Father’s who are married acquire responsibility and non married father’s can acquire parental responsibility by marrying the mother or being put on a child’s birth certificate, or by entering  a Parental Responsibility agreement with the Mother.

The division of the pension between spouses or civil partners.

A term to describe regular payments to either spouses or maintenance to children.

The document which starts divorce proceedings by the Petitioner.

The person who starts divorce proceedings and instigates divorce proceedings.

The section of the divorce petition where the Petitioner states which claims they wish to make as part of the divorce proceedings. For example a claim for a Pension sharing order or maintenance.

An agreement made by a couple prior to entering into marriage or civil partnership. The written agreement sets out how parties intend to hold and divide their assets if the parties decide to divorce or dissolve the civil partnership.

An order which prevents a person from doing a certain act in relation to a child. For example preventing a person from removing a child from one parent’s control.

An order which can make one party to  divorce or civil partnership proceedings, transfer an interest in a property into the other parties name.

Where a child or children will live. The court may make a residence order setting out where a child should live.

A court can order where children are to live.

Refers to the person whom the Applicant has made their application against., or the other party within proceedings.

Commonly used by cohabiting couples who are not married or civil partners. The agreement will set out how the parties intend to split their finances if the parties separate.

A special guardianship order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’. It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement. It is a more secure order than a residence order because a parent cannot apply to discharge it unless they have the permission of the court to do so, however it is less secure than an adoption order because it does not end the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth parents.

When parties cannot agree on a particular issue, for example religion or schooling,  a court can order and make a particular decision.

Describes a husband or wife a person is married to.

A form which must be submitted when a party issues a Petition for divorce if there are children. The purpose of the form is to set out to the court that the welfare of the children has been considered. This form should be agreed and signed by both parties to divorce proceedings.

The spouse or civil partner of a parent, who becomes the step-parent of that parent’s child upon marriage / civil partnership.

A court order that a child should be supervised by a probation officer or a local authority.

A way of owning property, unlike Joint Tenants, Tenants in Common can own specified shares and do not have to hold the interest in the property equally. When a Joint Tenant dies their interest in the property passes to their estate as states in their will.

Proceedings by agreement or when there is no answer.

A means by which the content of negotiations between parties cannot later be drawn to the attention of the Court. This is particularly used on documents or letters within Financial Remedy proceedings to prevent the Court from knowing about any negotiations not resulting in an agreement prior to a final hearing

Common Questions



Provided that you have been married for a period of at least one year, you can start divorce proceedings. A Divorce Petition is prepared and lodged with the Divorce Centre. Your spouse will then receive an Acknowledgement of Service form, when this has been returned to the Court you can then proceed to Decree Nisi stage. After a further period of six weeks, you can apply for the Decree Absolute which is the final order of divorce.

Civil Partnerships can be dissolved provided that you have been registered as Civil Partners for a period of at least one year.

Dissolution of a Civil Partnership follows the same procedure as divorcing couples an application is prepared and lodged with the Court.

Makin Dixon’s Online Fixed Fee Packages are designed to suit your specific needs following the breakdown of your Civil Partnership. Our Gold Package will take you through from the start to the completion of the dissolution proceedings.

When parents separate, it can be extremely difficult to reach an agreement in relation to the arrangements for the children. The welfare of the children should always be the main priority and wherever possible arrangements for children should be reached by agreement. The Court will intervene in circumstances where an adequate agreement cannot be reached.

If you have been able to reach an agreement in respect of the arrangements for the children, we can formalise this into a written agreement to be signed by you and your former partner.

Alternatively, in the absence of an agreement, we can help you reach an agreement with your former partner by negotiating with them directly.

Reaching an agreement in relation to the financial aspects of your separation can be extremely difficult.

Our experts are here to help you reach an agreement with your former partner as to how finances and assets are to be distributed following separation.  We will negotiate with your former partner on your behalf with a view to drafting a Schedule of Agreement / Disagreement outlining the agreed points and what remains in dispute.

When an agreement has been reached in relation to finances, we can formulate the agreement into a Consent Order which can then be approved by the Court.

If an agreement cannot be reached in relation to the arrangements for the children and the financial aspects of your separation, the cost will of course be greater.

Whilst it is not essential to instruct a solicitor in relation to your family disputes, it can help. At Makin Dixon we understand that the period following a family breakdown can be extremely stressful and emotional; and it can be very difficult to deal with these matters yourself. Our team of specialist family lawyers will advise you and guide you through the legal process at what can be an extremely difficult time and will work with you to achieve the best possible solution to the problems you face

Parental Responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority of a parent. If you have Parental Responsibility for a child, you have the authority to act as a parent. For example, it includes the right/responsibility to make welfare decisions for the child relating to matters such as education and health.

Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility; Fathers who are married acquire Parental Responsibility and non-married fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility by marrying the mother or being put on a child’s birth certificate, or by entering into a Parental Responsibility agreement with the Mother. Step-parents can acquire Parental Responsibility be entering into an agreement with the child’s mother and birth father. We can draft the necessary agreement and register the same with the High Court.