Explaining the jargon used by the court in simple English


Wellers Law Group LLP is committed to providing its divorce law clients with a legal service that explains the process in clear and simple language. This is why we have provided a glossary of many of the terms used by courts and lawyers during a divorce. We hope that this resource helps you make sense of the new processes and terminology as you encounter them.

We also have a dedicated page which looks at individual components of a financial settlement on divorce.

Acknowledgement of Service: When a Respondent confirms that a Divorce Petition has been received, he/she fills in, signs and sends back the Acknowledgement of Service to confirm in writing that the Petition was received.

Adjournment: Postponing a Court hearing.

Ancillary relief: The tem used when applying to the Court for a financial settlement on divorce.

Ante-nuptial Agreement: A legal agreement between two people who are about to get married. The agreement sets out how the couple’s assets will be divided between them if they later divorce. More commonly known as Pre-nuptial Agreement.

Appeal: Asking a Court to overturn a lower Court’s decision. If the decision of a Court is disputed, it may be possible to ask a higher Court to consider the case again by lodging an appeal.

Barrister: A member of the bar; the branch of the legal profession which has rights of audience before all Courts. They are instructed by solicitors and are also known as Counsel.

Beneficial interest: Even though an asset may be legally owned by one person, the beneficial owner may be somebody else. A common situation is in respect of a Trust or settlement.

Child Maintenance Service (formerly Child Support Agency): Part of the Department of Social Security which supervises the assessment and payment of maintenance for children.

Clean break: This is a term used when divorcing spouses 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.

Co-habitation: The act of two people, whether a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, living together while in a relationship but without getting married.

Consent Order: A term used for an order that sets out a formal agreement between parties involved in divorce proceedings or Children Act proceedings.

Decree Absolute: Within divorce proceedings, the final order of the Court which brings the marriage to an end.

Decree Nisi: Within Divorce Proceedings, a provisional order of the Court which orders that a marriage should be dissolved. Issued prior to Decree Absolute, the order indicates the Court is satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been established. This is NOT a final Certificate of Divorce.

Disclosure: The sharing of financial details, such as income, assets, pensions and liabilities, whether voluntarily or as part of a court order.

Divorce: Legal dissolution of marriage.

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

Financial dispute resolution hearing: Hearing in ancillary relief proceedings where the Court assists the parties in discussion and negotiation in order to reach a settlement. The Court is unable to force an agreement on the parties at this hearing.

Financial remedy: A general term usually used in the context of financial proceedings and financial orders which can be made by the Court.

First directions appointment: Also known as FDA. First hearing in ancillary relief proceedings. The purpose of this hearing is to define the issues, to save costs and to make directions in relation to the future conduct of the case. Where possible, the appointment will be used to reach a settlement.

Form E: An obligatory sworn financial statement filed in ancillary relief proceedings that is intended to encapsulate everything that the Court needs to know about the financial position of each of the divorcing parties, as well as the details of the type of order they are seeking.

Freezing injunction: An order which prevents or sets aside the disposition or transfer of any property or assets.

Judicial separation: The situation if you and your spouse remain married in law but are living separate lives. In such a situation you can apply to the court in order to resolve financial matters.

Lump sum order: In ancillary relief proceedings, an order that one party to the marriage pay the other party a fixed sum of money, either as a lump sum or in instalments.

Maintenance: Money paid to support a spouse and/or children when a marriage has ended, otherwise known as periodical payments. Maintenance may be paid for a fixed period of time or indefinitely on what is known as a ‘joint lives basis’. If spousal maintenance is paid on a joint lives basis, it will automatically cease upon the re-marriage of the person receiving the maintenance or on the death of either party.

Maintenance pending suit/interim maintenance: A term used for financial provision made whilst proceedings are ongoing and until such time as a final order is achieved.

Matrimonial home: The principal home in which parties to the marriage reside or resided.

Mediation: Talking to two separate people or groups involved in a disagreement to try and help them to agree or find a solution to the problems.

Pension: A sum of money paid regularly by the Government or a private company to a person who does not work anymore because they have reached retirement age or because they have become ill.

Pension Earmarking/Attachment: An 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: An 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 shared 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 ancillary relief proceedings, an order requiring either party to the marriage to make periodical payments to the other party of a specified amount, frequency and duration as defined by the Court.

Petition: A method of commencing proceedings whereby the order required is expressed as a prayer, for example, in the Divorce Petition a prayer that the marriage be dissolved.

Prayer: The request made to the Court by the petitioner as to what action/relief is being sought.

Property Adjustment Order: In ancillary relief proceedings, an order that a party of 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.

Sale of Property Order: In ancillary relief proceedings, where a Court makes a secured periodical payments order, lump sum order or property adjustment order, it may make a further order for the sale of such property as may be specified in the order.

Secured Periodical Payments Order: In ancillary relief 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.

Solicitor: Member of the legal profession mainly concerned with advising clients and preparing their cases and representing them in some Courts. May also act as advocates before certain Courts or tribunals.

Wellers’ Divorce Solicitors are Here to Help

Having expert legal representation that you can rely on can make all the difference when you are embarking on the divorce process and especially during a financial settlement on divorce. The divorce lawyers at Wellers Law Group, work to help you negotiate the process with clarity and confidence so that you do not encounter any unnecessary stress or confusion.

We combine extensive family law knowledge with a sensitive and personalised approach to ensure that your interests and those of your children are properly accounted for throughout. Our family law team is made up of men and women from a variety of backgrounds – this helps us develop a highly tailored and personalised approach to the all-important client-solicitor relationship.

For more information about how we may be able to help you in legal matters relating to divorce and separation, including financial and property arrangements, contact us today by calling 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 email your enquiry to familylaw@wellerslawgroup.com