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JCS Solicitors

Mediators and specialists in matrimonial and family law

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Some of the most frequently asked questions tend to be what the definitions of the legal phrases used are.
We've listed here the Divorce legal jargon and what they mean.

Acknowledgement of Service: Confirmation of receipt of the divorce papers by the Respondent

Affidavit: This is evidence, on oath, but in the form of a document which will be placed before the court in support of your case. We send an affidavit to the court when we are applying for the first decree of divorce (Decree Nisi). The affidavit is a statement telling the court that everything in your divorce petition is true and accurate and it is a sworn statement. You have to take it to another Solicitor (Commissioner for Oaths) or to the court general office where you will be asked to sign it and say that the statement is true. The solicitor or court official will then witness your signature

Ancillary Relief: Any sort of court order concerning the assets of the marriage, maintenance, pension sharing or an order deciding whether the house should be sold or awarded to one of the parties.

Clean break: A financial arrangement where all the financial issues are tied up in one deal with no claims to be made by either party against the other in the future. The Court has to consider whether there can be a clean break in each and every case.

CAFCASS: This stands for Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. If there is a dispute about the children, this is the Judge’s independent reporter who assists the Judge in deciding what arrangements would be in the best interests of the children.

Consent Order: An agreement by the parties which is made into a binding Court Order. The Consent Order can also contain a “Clean Break” clause.

Decree Nisi: The divorce comes in two parts – this is the first part

Decree Absolute: is the finalising part of the divorce. There is a six week “cooling off” period between obtaining the Decree Nisi and applying for the Decree Absolute in case either party should change their mind or someone else objects.

First Appointment (FDA): the first Court appointment in financial cases when a Judge considers what information is needed before there can be a;

FDR: the second Court appointment in financial cases, when a Judge guides the parties and negotiation takes place with a view to settling the case without a full trial. Many cases settle at this stage.

Form E: This is a 30 page form that both parties have to fill in and send to the Court if either of them applies for any financial or property orders. It contains full details of each party’s income, savings, investments, debts, pension funds and much more. Both parties will have to sign saying that the contents of the form are true. The parties also exchange Form E’s so each can see what the others case is. This helps with negotiation and settlement.

Judicial Separation: a foral separation sanctioned by the Court which enables the Court to make orders about money and property. These days a Judicial Separation is less common unless required on religious grounds.

Maintenance (also known as Periodical Payments): These are payments in the form of income to be paid either to the other party or for the benefit of the children, known as either Spousal or Child Maintenance.

Maintenance Pending Suit: temporary maintenance pending finalisation of financial claims.

Petitioner: The party who files the petition at the Court. The other party is Respondent.

Property Adjustment Order: an order that a husband or wife should transfer property to the other

Separation Agreement/Deed: a contract between husband and wife detailing the agreed terms of separation if divorce is not being pursued at that time.

Statement of Arrangements: a form required to be filed in all Divorce cases where there are children still in full time education. The Court no longer makes orders in respect of children unless there is a serious problem or dispute. However, the Divorce will not proceed if the Judge is not satisfied with the arrangements made.