Family Law Jargon Buster

Lawyers, legal systems and ‘all that Latin talk’ can be very confusing, so here is Barber & Co’s Jargon Buster guide to help you understand the main phrases and acronyms:
Acknowledgement of Service – in divorce and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings this is the form that must be completed when you receive divorce or dissolution papers
ADR -Alternative Dispute Resolution – a way of resolving conflict other than issuing court proceedings e.g. mediation.
Applicant – the person making the application e.g. for divorce.
Brief – the instructing documents your solicitor sends to a barrister.
CAFCASS- Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service.
CAFCASS Officer – officers of the court relating to children’s matters.
Certificate of entitlement to a decree – an official document from the court confirming the parties are entitled to a divorce; it sets out when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced.
CEV- Cash Equivalent Value – relating to the value of a person’s pension.
Child Arrangements Order – a court order stating with which party a child will live and how much time they will spend with the other parent.
Civil Partnership – a legally recognised union currently for same sex couples with rights similar to marriage.
Civil Marriage – a civil contract without religious ceremony.
Clean Break Order – an order from the court upon divorce or dissolution preventing the parties from making any further financial claim against the other arising out of the marriage or civil partnership.
Cohabitation Agreement – a contract that two cohabitees enter into to regulate their financial affairs in the event their relationship breaks down.
Counsel – a barrister.
Decree Absolute – a pronouncement in open court and formal order from the court concluding the divorce proceedings. This means that a married couple can now be said to be divorced.
Decree Nisi – from the Latin nisi meaning ‘unless’. A pronouncement in open court and formal order from the court advising the couple have satisfied that they are entitled to a divorce and that they can apply for the decree absolute following a further period of time – usually no sooner than 6 weeks and 1 day from the pronouncement of the decree nisi.
Divorce – to dissolve/ end a marriage.
Domicile – traces to Latin domus, meaning “home” – 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 the parties are obligated to disclose their respective financial details.
FDA -First Directions Appointment – the first court hearing in financial proceedings.
FDR – Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing – a further court hearing in financial proceedings to allow the parties to negotiate a financial settlement with the assistance of the court. Most cases settle at this stage.
Final Hearing – the final hearing in financial proceedings if the case has not been agreed at FDR. This hearing will determine the financial consequences of the breakup of the marriage or civil partnership as a final decision will be made by the court.
Finding of Fact Hearing – usually in relation to proceedings involving children where one party has made serious allegations against the other party and a hearing is required to assess the facts of the case before making any further decisions.
Form E – the name of the court form relating to financial proceedings whereby each party disclose what their financial circumstances are.
Former Matrimonial Home – refers to the parties’ home immediately prior to the separation.
Freezing Injunction – an order of the court freezing bank accounts or preventing a party from disposing of an asset.
Injunction a court order that prevents a person from doing a particular act.
Lump Sum Order – an order of the court made at the end of the proceedings for a financial order within a divorce or dissolution for the payment of a sum of money from one party to the other, sometimes made in instalments.
Maintenance Pending Suit- a type of maintenance order made that requires one party to pay a regular sum of money to the other party until final resolution of financial issues arising from the breakdown of the marriage.
Mediation – a type of dispute resolution where a trained mediator assists with the disputes in the hope of avoiding court proceedings.
Non Molestation Order – an order of the family court preventing someone from using violence towards or harassing another person.
Nullity – a declaration that no legal marriage ever existed.
Occupation Order – an order of the court stating a person must leave a property and must not return to the property and/or return to a designated area around a property.
Parental Responsibility – legal term referring to the rights, duties and responsibilities that a parent has to a child.
Pension Sharing Order- a court order relating to financial proceedings which requires one party to pay some or all of the value of their pension to the other party.
Periodical Payments Order – an order of the court saying one party is to pay the other money for a specific period of time for the maintenance of the other.
Pre-nuptial Agreement – a contract entered into by parties intending to marry or enter a civil partnership that sets out their financial affairs in the event the relationship ends.
Post-nuptial Agreement- a contract entered into by parties already married or in a civil partnership to set out their financial affairs in the event the relationship ends.
Pro Bono- from the Latin ‘pro bono publico’ meaning ‘for the public good’ – legal work done without payment.
Prohibited Steps Order – a court order preventing a person from conduct in relation to a child, for example preventing a parent from taking a child to live abroad.
Respondent- the person receiving or responding to an application against them. For example, the respondent to the divorce application.
Separation Agreement – a document setting out the terms on which the parties agree to separate including financial terms and sometimes terms in relation to the children of the relationship.
Single Joint Expert- an expert instructed jointly by both parties to prepare a report for the court on a specific matter for example a Surveyor to value a property.
Specific Issue Order- a court order regarding a specific question in relation to a child. For example, what their name should be or where they go to school.
TOLATA- Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 – Statute relating to property interests and orders for sale of land/ property.
Undertaking- is a binding promise given to the court. Breach of this can lead to contempt of court.
Unless order- court order requiring a party to do a specific act usually by a set date.
Without notice application – any application to the court that the other party has not been given prior notice of.
There are many, many other complicated terms involved in these processes, if you are in any doubt do not hesitate to ask – we will help guide you through this minefield.
Our advice is good because we listen.