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Acknowledgement of Service – The form a respondent receives confirming that a divorce petition has been received. It should be completed and returned to the court.
Adultery – Having sexual intercourse with an individual of the opposite sex other than your spouse.
Affidavit – A written statement which is sworn to be true by the person signing it. It is sworn before someone authorised by the court.
Attachment of Earnings – A court order that deductions be made from a person’s income. The employer pays the money direct to the person owed money by the employee.
Beneficial interest – Who has the benefit of a certain asset. Even though an asset may be legally owned by one person, the true beneficial owner may be somebody else.
Bigamy – The offence committed by someone who is already married but still goes through a marriage ceremony with someone else.
Care Order – An order by a court instructing the local authority to care for a child.
Child Maintenance Service – Part of the Department of Social Security. It supervises the assessment and payment of maintenance for children.
Child Maintenance – The amount of maintenance the parent not living with their child must pay.
Child Arrangements Order – An order setting out where a child will live and how the child’s time will be divided.
Civil Partnership – Commonly known as “gay marriage”. Same-sex couples may enter into civil partnerships which bring about the same rights and obligations as marriage. They are terminated in a similar process to divorce.
Cohabitation – A couple living together as husband and wife, whether they are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple. At present there is no specific legal definition of what amounts to cohabitation.
“Common-law Marriage” – There is no legal concept of common-law marriage something often misunderstood by a couple moving in together.
Consent Order – An order setting out the terms that have been agreed between the parties.
Contempt of court – The offence of:
disobeying a court order
abusing a judge during a court case
interfering in the administration of justice.
Decree absolute – The final court order which ends a marriage.
Decree nisi – A provisional court order which orders that a marriage should be dissolved. Usually the only part of the court process in a divorce which takes place in open court and which the public can attend.
Divorce – The legal end to a marriage.
Divorce petition – An application for the legal ending of a marriage.
Domicile – The country which is your permanent home, even if you are living somewhere else for now.
Domicile of choice – The country in which you make your home, intending it to be permanent.
Domicile of origin – The domicile which a newborn child has. This is usually its father’s domicile or, if the father is dead, its mother’s domicile.
Expert witness – An expert in a particular field who is called to give an opinion in a court case.
Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing – A hearing which takes place as part of the ancillary relief process. It is commonly known as an “FDR” and is an opportunity for the parties to negotiate a final financial settlement with the input and assistance of a family judge. The parties do not give evidence and the judge cannot impose a decision upon them.
Form A – The application to start financial proceedings.
Form E – A statement setting out a party’s financial information in ancillary relief proceedings.
Injunction – An order of the court preventing a person from taking a specific step. For example, an injunction may prevent a person disposing of an asset or attending at the family home.
the territory in which a court can operate
the power it has to deal with particular cases
the power it has to issue orders
Maintenance – Money paid to support a spouse and children when a marriage has ended. Otherwise known as “periodical payments”.
Matrimonial home – The house in which a husband and wife live in as a married couple.
Mediation – Help from an independent person who assists a separating couple in resolving their legal differences at the end of a relationship.
Non-molestation Order – An order dealing with a party’s behaviour. It commonly prevents a person from threatening, intimidating etc another
Occupation Order – An order determining who should live in a property. One party will be permitted to live in the property, the other will be excluded.
Polygamy – Being married to more than one person at once.
Pre-Nuptial Agreement – An agreement entered into by a couple prior to their marriage which is intended to determine financial claims should they divorce. They are not binding upon English law, although the courts will attach a great deal of weight to such agreements if they are properly drawn up and if certain safeguards are met.
Post-Nuptial Agreement – The same as a pre-nuptial agreement but is entered into between a couple after the marriage as opposed to beforehand.
Prohibited Steps Order – An order prohibiting a certain act.
Respondent – The person an action is being taken against.
Specific Issue Order – An order permitting a certain activity in respect of children. A specific issue order may address which school a child shall attend or whether they should undergo certain medical treatment or receive certain religious education.
Statement of Information – The statement summarising the parties’ respective finances.
Undertaking – A promise which can be enforced by law such as a promise made by one of the parties or by their lawyer during legal proceedings.
Without prejudice – When written on a document, the document cannot be used as evidence that a contract or agreement exists.
Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA No: 627248. Hall Brown Family Law is the trading name of Hall Brown Limited which is a limited company registered at Ship Canal House, 98 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU. Company number 09935721. James Brown and Sam Hall are the sole directors. We use the word "partner" to refer to a shareholder or director of the company, or an employee or consultant who is a lawyer with equivalent standing and qualifications.