Explaining the jargon used by the Court in simple English


Divorce law encompasses a vast number of confusing legal words and phrases that may unfortunately only add to the stress and uncertainty of the process. This is why we have compiled a glossary of the language of divorce so that you can negotiate the process with increased clarity and confidence. From finding out what it means to be an applicant to the ramifications of a Specific Issue Order, we have all the key terms and phrases covered.

Applicant: The person who makes an application either in relation to children matters, financial matters or injunction proceedings.

Cafcass: The Children And Family Court Advisory And Support Services for England and Wales. You will meet a Cafcass officer if you apply to the Court for any order affecting your child, for example contact or residence.

Child Arrangements Order: The arrangements for whom the child/children will live with (formerly known as custody) and the times they will visit or stay with the parent who no longer lives with them. This can include indirect arrangements such exchange of letters, telephone calls, Skype, Facetime or presents. These types of orders can also be made in favour of others, for example grandparents. Child Arrangement Orders replaced residence orders and contact orders.

Child Maintenance: Legally required financial support for children, typically paid by the absent parent to the parent who lives with the children. Can be mutually agreed through a family-based arrangement or by application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

FHDRA: This is the acronym for the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment, during which the Court will first consider your case. It will encourage you and your partner to agree arrangements if possible for your child/children but if not, it will make directions to enable the Court to make a decision.

Non-molestation order: A court order preventing one spouse from threatening, harassing or intimidating the other spouse. This type of order may also be used to protect children.

Parental Responsibility: This means the rights and responsibilities that mothers and married fathers have to their children. Non-married fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility through marriage to the child’s mother, by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother, by being named as the father on the child’s birth certificate (after 1st December 2003) or by applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Parenting Plan: A voluntary agreement between the two parents of a child regarding arrangements including physical custody, legal custody, financial support and ongoing communication.

Prohibited Steps Order: This is a Court order used to prohibit something being done to a child – for example removing a child or children from the country.

Respondent: The person who responds to proceedings issued at Court.

Shared care: Whereby the child or children live with both parents following separation or divorce – this can by via a Court order or mutual agreement. Shared care is typically arranged in blocks of time, for example, Monday to Thursday, Friday to Sunday. A shared care arrangement is usually made by way of a Child Arrangements Order that sets out the time the child/children will spend with each parent.

Specific Issue Order: An order to resolve a particular issue in a dispute relating to a child – for example when parents cannot agree about schooling or medical treatment.

Family lawyers for Children Arrangements

Divorce is never easy, but with the steadying hand of reliable and sensitive legal advice, it is possible to negotiate the process with the minimum of stress and inconvenience. At Wellers Law Group LLP we are committed to furthering the interests of our clients and their children so they can come through the divorce, child arrangements and financial settlement processes feeling confident and optimistic about the future.

We have offices in Central London and across the South of England. We will take the time to listen to you and will respond to your situation with the seriousness and sensitivity it deserves. For help and information, contact us today. We have offices in Central London and across the South of England.

We take pride in helping our clients and their families successfully negotiate some of the most important and difficult events of their lives – this is why they come back to us time and again.

Call 020 8290 7992 for our Bromley team, 01732 457575 for Sevenoaks, 020 7481 6393 for central London or 01483 284567 for our Surrey team.

Alternatively, get in touch by filling in our online contact form. We offer a fixed fee, no obligation one-hour interview so that we may provide you with initial advice and suggest the options for your next course of action.