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Acknowledgement of service form

the form by which the respondent (or co-respondent) acknowledges having received the divorce petition


a formal legal process in which the legal obligations and rights of a child toward the biological parents are terminated and new rights and obligations are created between the child and the adoptive parents.

ADR - Family Law

this stands for 'alternative dispute resolution'. It is used as a way to resolve disputes without going to Court. Mediation is an example of this


sworn written statement for use in Court proceedings

Ancillary relief

a general term for the possible financial orders that a court can make (see financial remedy)


the formal defence to a divorce petition

Child abduction

the illegal removal of a child from its home, often from one country to another

Civil partnership

the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 enables same sex couples to register their relationship, thus securing largely the same treatment as marriage

Clean break

an order dealing with all the finances between the parties with a view to ensuring finality


a person with whom the respondent is alleged to have committed adultery

Consent order

an order made by a court which gives effect to the terms agreed between a husband and wife, or between civil partners

Contact (formerly Access)

the arrangement by which a child sees the parent, or other individual, with whom he or she does not live


see residence order

Decree absolute

the final order of the court, which brings the marriage to an end

Decree nisi

the provisional order signifying that the court is satisfied that the ground for divorce has been established


the process of exchanging full financial details

District judge

a judge in the County Court who will deal with the majority of the divorce proceedings and usually with financial matters


dissolution of marriage


a person's permanent and principal home for legal purposes which will determine which country's laws apply

Family Proceedings Court

the division of the Magistrates Court that deals with family law matters

Financial Remedy

formerly known as anciallary relief the powers of the court to make an order redistributing the income and capital assets of parties to divorce proceedings

Form E

a sworn statement containing financial information


an order issued by the court preventing or requiring action, often in an emergency

Judicial separation

a formal separation sanctioned by the court, which enables the courts to make orders relating to money and property

Lump sum

payment of a capital sum of money


money paid by one party to the other for ongoing financial support

Maintenance pending suit

temporary maintenance pending the finalisation of a divorce

Matrimonial home

the property in which a married couple live together, regardless of whether or not they own or rent it


alternative process to Court (see ADR)

Non-molestation order

an order preventing the use or threat of violence, or intimidation or harassment

Occupation order

an order regulating the right to occupy the matrimonial home

Parental responsibility

the rights and responsibilities that parents have towards their children

Pension sharing

the division of a pension fund between husband and wife, or civil partners

Periodical payments

see maintenance


the document in which a divorce or judicial separation is applied for


the person who is applying for a divorce or judicial separation

Pre nuptial agreement

a formal written agreement entered into by a couple before marriage recording their intentions as to the division of assets if the relationship breaks down. Although not always legally binding, in certain circumstances the agreement can be accepted by the courts. Equivalent agreements can be entered into before a civil partnership.

Prohibited steps order

an order prohibiting specific steps in relation to a child i.e. a change of surname or removal from the jurisdiction

Property adjustment order

an order that a property should be transferred

Request for directions

an application to the court for a decree nisi

Residence order

an order determining where a child is to live


the person against whom relief is sought by the applicant

Separation agreement

a document setting out agreed terms for a separation without involving court proceedings


the process by which court documents are formally sent to the recipient party (usually via their solicitor)

Specific issue order

an order determining a specific issue relating to a child, such as a dispute regarding education or medical treatment

Statement of arrangements

the form that must to be sent to the court with the petition if children are involved, setting out the proposed arrangements for those children when the divorce takes place

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