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A-Z of Divorce Terminology

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A-Z of Divorce Terminology

Your A to Z guide of all that wonderful divorce terminology, from Ancillary Relief to Without Prejudice.

Ancillary Relief

  • The name given to the financial aspect of the divorce.

Applicant

  • The person who petitions for divorce is identified in court documents as the ‘applicant’.

Assets

  • The assets of concern in ancillary relief proceedings are all those things of value owned by either of the parties to the divorce. When dividing the assets one important consideration is to determine which assets are joint matrimonial assets and which are non-matrimonial (i.e. solely owned by one of the parties). For example a holiday home belonging to the respondent before he met and married the applicant, may be deemed a non-matrimonial asset.

Barrister

  • The name for the legal counsel who represents a client in court. The barrister’s role is to understand the facts of the clients case and then devise and present in court a reasoned argument with the objective of obtaining a favourable outcome for their client.

Barder Event

  • Not every eventuality can be taken into account when a financial settlement is made, but there are cases which have dealt with the situation of "a new event" arising. The leading case is Barder v Barder in 1988. It sets out the basic rules which make out a "new event" and therefore allow an appeal out of two proper time limit.

CETV

  • This is an agreed standard calculation used by a pension provider to assign a value to a pension. A pension is a future income stream and has no actual value today. However in order to fairly share out the assets of the marriage a court needs to establish the value of a pension.

Calderbank Letter

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Child Maintenance (CM)

  • The regular payments that should be paid by the Non-Resident Parent to the Parent With Care as a contribution towards the upkeep of the children.

Child Support Agency (CSA)

  • An organization established by the government with the objective of ensuring that Non-Resident Parents make regular Child Maintenance payments to the Non Resident Parent who is caring for their children.

Collaborative Family Law

  • Collaborative law is a process whereby a couple engage in a series of honest and dignified discussions about the terms of their separation, which are tailored to suit their priorities and needs. They each have a lawyer who is trained in collaborative law and all work together to find a fair and sensible solution for the benefit of the family.

Costs

  • The monies expended by each party involved in legal proceedings. Costs may include court fees, solicitor fees, barrister fees, traveling expenses and fees for other professional services (accountant, private investigator, property surveyor).

Court Of Appeal

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Consent Order

  • A formal agreement on separation terms covering finances and/or childcare arrangements drawn up between the two parties to a divorce. It differs from a court order in that the terms of a Consent Order are agreed by a process of negotiation, whereas the terms of a court order are set by the court having heard statements/arguments from the two parties.

Contact Order

  • An order issued by a court setting out a schedule for contact between a child and their Non-Resident Parent.

Decree Absolute

  • The Decree Absolute is the document which shows that you are divorced. The Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute six weeks after the date of the Decree Nisi. If the Petitioner does not apply for a divorce at that time, the Respondent must wait a further three months before making an application to the court. You should be aware that any financial order made is only effective from the date of the Decree Absolute.

Decree Nisi

  • The Decree Nisi is a certificate which confirms that the court is satisfied that you are entitled to a divorce. Essentially it means that all the paperwork is in order and that the statutory criteria for a divorce have been met. This does not in itself end the marriage. The marriage is ended when one of the parties, usually the Petitioner, applies for the Decree Absolute.

Directions Hearing

  • A court hearing held to decide the next steps to be taken in a particular case. The judge will hearing statements/arguments from each party and then make an order. This order may include requests for further disclosure or further hearings.

Disclosure

  • The act of making available to the opposing party certain facts that are deemed relevant to the case, such as bank statements in ancillary relief proceedings.

Earning Capacity

  • The maintenance ordered to be paid by one party to the other is based on their level of earnings. If the court feels that a person has deliberately lowered their actual earnings in an attempt to minimize the maintenance payable (e.g. by quitting a highly paid job) then the court is empowered to based the award on their ‘earning capacity’, i.e. the amount that the court believes that they are capable of earning in the open market.

Enforcement

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Ex to be (X2B)

  • A term used commonly on forums to denote the soon to be ex-partner of the writer.

Family Law

  • The area of law covering divorce.

Form E

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Former Matrimonial Home

  • The property where the married couple/family lived prior to separation. It is very relevant in ancillary relief proceedings as it is often the largest asset.

Financial Dispute Resolution

  • A hearing at which a judge considers the facts of the case and the arguments of each party and attempts to guide the parties towards an agreement. This hearing typically lasts 1 hour. To encourage the parties to explore options this hearing is held ‘without prejudice’, meaning that what is discussed in this hearing is not disclosed to the judge at the final hearing.

Final Hearing

  • The hearing at which final arguments and evidence is considered in detail, and at which the judge makes a binding ruling on the case in the form of a court order. The hearing typically last for 2 days.

Grounds For Divorce

  • There is only one basis for divorce in England and that is the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. This is illustrated in one of five ways:
    • adultery
    • unreasonable behaviour
    • desertion for a period of two years
    • separation for a period of two years where both parties consent to the divorce
    • separation for five years

Hague Convention

  • An agreement that most countries in the world have signed up to which governs cross border issues such as the abduction by one parent of a child and enforcement of maintenance obligations of absent parents.

House Of Lords

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Jurisdiction

  • The rules/guidlines which defines whether a court has the right to hear and pronounce judgement on a specific case. Typically issues arise where the parties were born or live in different countries and have opposing views with regard to where the divorce case should be heard.

Litigant In Person

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McKenzie Friend

  • a term used to describe someone who assists a litigant in person in court. A McKenzie Friend does not represent the litigant and does not have rights of audience, though s/he may address the court if invited to do so by the presiding judge or magistrate.

Mesher trigger

  • A clause in a financial agreement that terminates some aspect of the agreement when a Mesher trigger occurs (such as: re-marriage, co-habitation, death).

New Partner (NP)

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Non Resident Parent (NRP)

  • The parent, typically the father, who does not have a full-time care of the children. They should however still have significant contact with the children including overnight stays.

Offer

  • A proposal to settle a financial or childcare dispute, put forward by one party to the other often in the form of a Calderbank letter. Although since a change in the rules on costs, for cases where proceedings began after 06 April 2006 offer letters are now typically open (i.e. made available to the court as well as to the other party).

Parental Responsibility

  • The concept that even after separation/divorce, both parents continue to have full responsibility for the wellbeing and upkeep of their offspring. For many years the term ‘custody’ was used in relation to divorce, however it implied the parent had ownership of the child and political correctness led to a change in the language used to refer instead to Parental Responsibility.

Parent With Care (PWC)

  • The parent, often the mother, with whom the child lives for the majority of the time. The Parent With Care is entitled to receive certain benefits on behalf of the child such as child benefit and child related tax credits.

Pensions

  • Pensions are commonly one of the significant marital assets and as such they are an important consideration in financial agreements.

Petition

  • A request by an individual to the court to instigate legal proceedings such as a divorce.

Petitioner

  • The person who petitions the court for divorce proceedings to commence.

Pension Sharing Order

  • One of the orders that an applicant may seek is for the court to order the respondent to share some portion of the income from their pension.

Property Transfer

  • One of the orders that an applicant may seek is for the court to order the respondent to transfer all or part of a property into the applicants name.

Residence Order

  • An order that defines the living arrangements for the children of a divorcing couple.

Respondent

  • The opposite party who is expected to respond to the petition instigated by the applicant.

Solicitor

  • A legally trained professional who manages a case on behalf of a party to a divorce. The solicitor aims to achieve a favourable outcome for their client, which may be achieved through negotiation or litigation. They assist their clients in making/responding to offers, making applications to the court, setting out their arguments at court hearings and briefing barristers for final hearings.

Spousal Maintenance (SM)

  • A regular payment from the higher earning party to the lower earning party to support them financially for either a defined term (for example whilst re-training) or for joint lives.

Shared Residency

  • A particular type of residency agreement where both parents are recognized as playing a major role in the day to day care of the child and where the child splits their time roughly evenly between their mother’s and father’s homes.

Statement Of Arrangements

  • When a petition for divorce is filed, if there are any children of the marriage (or treated as a 'child of the family') who are under 16 or in full-time education then a Statement of Arrangements for their future must be filed with the divorce petition.

Yardstick Of Equality

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Without Prejudice

  • Some offer letters and some hearings (e.g. the FDR) are deemed to be ‘without prejudice’ which means that statements made in them cannot later be use in evidence at the Final Court hearing, except for when it comes to deciding who should pay the costs.

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