Family Law Glossary

  • Access
    The time spent with the parent with whom the child does not reside; now referred to as Contact.

  • Adoption order
    The court order when a child is adopted and the adopters become the legal parents of a child

  • Adoption Proceedings
    The court proceedings started by an application for an Adoption order to become the legal parents of a child

  • Adoptive parents
    People who wish to adopt a child

  • Affidavit
    A legal document that is sworn on oath to be true

  • Ancillary Relief
    Court proceedings which provide for the distribution of the matrimonial assets following the breakdown in a marriage. The main aims of the Ancillary relief procedure are to identify the important issues for the parties and encourage them to reach an agreement reduce unnecessary cost and delay by imposing a strict timetable restricting disclosure of financial information and ensuring the parties are aware, at each stage, exactly what costs are being incurred in proceeding with the case.

    Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service – an independent organisation, appointed by the courts to help resolve disputes between parents over children

  • Care order
    A child is placed in the care of the local authority if his/her parents are unable to care for him/her. A care order gives the local authority parental responsibility for the child and lasts until he is 18 years old. Sometimes the local authority agrees that the child can remain living with his parents. Sometimes the child will be live with foster parents. Sometimes the child will be placed to live with adoptive parents

  • Care Proceedings
    The court proceedings issued when a local authority seeks to obtain a Care order. They might involve removing a child from his parents

  • Child Maintenance
    Monies due from the non-resident parent to the parent with whom the child lives

  • Child Support Agency
    The organisation which deals with child maintenance

  • Children Act 1989
    Legislation governing most court applications regarding children

  • Children Panel Membership
    An important accreditation from the Law Society recognising particular experience and specialism in children law disputes, particularly those concerning care proceedings.

  • Children's Guardian
    An independent court-appointed professional who advises the court on the best interests of children in legal proceedings

  • Civil partners
    A relationship between two persons of the same sex who have registered themselves as civil partners

  • Clean Break
    The object of the clean break is to settle one and for all the parties financial responsibility towards each other and to end their financial inter-dependence to enable them to leave their past behind them and begin anew. The Court must weigh all the statutory factors in deciding whether a clean break is appropriate on the facts of the particular case.

  • Collaborative Law
    An innovative approach to negotiating and mediating the financial situation upon separation or divorce. Can apply to married couples, civil partnerships and cohabiting couples

  • Consent Order
    The approval by the court of the agreement reached in final settlement of financial matters following a divorce

  • Custody
    Now known as Residence, it refers to where and with whom a child resides

  • Decree Absolute
    The final dissolution of the marriage

  • Decree Nisi
    The first stage in dissolving the marriage

  • Emergency Protection order
    Short emergency court order to either remove a child from his parents or prevent him from returning – lasts up to 8 days and can be renewed once for a further 7 days

  • Family Law Panel membership
    An important accreditation from the Law Society recognising particular experience and specialism in family law

  • Injunction
    An order of the court preventing someone, usually a spouse or partner, from doing something - See Non Molestation Order

  • Interim care order
    Medium term court order which gives the local authority shared parental responsibility for a child and which allows the local authority to overrule the parents – generally lasts up to 28 days and can be renewed for the duration of care proceedings

  • Judicial Separation
    A legal separation which is commenced by petition but stops at Decree Nisi.

  • Mediation
    An independent service which attempts to reach settlement on children and/or financial matters

  • Mediation agreement
    An agreement reached in and through mediation between the parties. It does not have the binding force of a court order

  • Non Molestation Order
    A court order to forbid another person from using or threatening violence or from harassing or pestering you or a child of the family

  • Occupation Order
    An order removing another person from your home or area around the home and forbidding that person from returning or trying to enter the home

  • Petition for Divorce
    The legal document which commences divorce proceedings

  • Police Protection order
    Short emergency decision taken by the police to remove and protect a child from the care of his parents – can only last 72 hours

  • Post Nuptial Agreements
    Similar to Pre nuptial agreements although a Post nuptial agreement would be entered into after a marriage rather than before a marriage. This allows a married couple to enter into an agreement in relation to the marital assets after the wedding ceremony has taken place. Like a Pre-nuptial agreement, a Post-nuptial agreement is not necessarily legally binding on the parties but provided both parties have had the benefit of seeking their own legal advice, the terms of the agreement may be considered enforceable by a Judge.

  • Pre Nuptial agreement
    An agreement entered into prior to marriage concerning financial matters. Can apply in a Civil Partnerships too

  • Prohibited Steps Order
    An application to prevent a parent with parental responsibility from taking any step which is specified in the order without the consent of the court

  • Provision for Children
    The interests of the children of the family are borne in mind when any financial order is made under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. section 251 of that Act requires the Court to give first consideration to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family when considering making any financial order on divorce. Therefore, when considering its powers to provide for the parties, any order made will reflect not only the needs of those parties but also of the children.

  • Residence
    Where and with whom a child resides

  • Residence Proceedings
    The court proceedings and order which decides where and with whom a child should live

  • Shared Residence
    When 2 parents can share the living arrangements for the child

  • Social Services
    The local authority department which deals with the welfare of children

  • Special Guardianship order
    A new type of court order introduced under the recently effective Adoption and Children Act 2002. It is an order which gives the holder parental responsibility for a child and which allows him to use that to the exclusion of any other person with parental responsibility, such as the child’s parent

  • Specific Issue Order
    An order of the court which directs the way in which any disagreement over a specific issue is to be dealt with

  • Spousal maintenance
    Monies due from a spouse or civil partner to the other spouse or civil partner

  • Statement of Arrangements
    A form to complete when commencing divorce or judicial separation proceedings if there are young children of the family

  • The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973
    Section 25-2 of this Act lists 8 factors to be considered by the Court when dealing with ancillary relief for a spouse:- a. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. b. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future c. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage d. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage e. Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage f. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family g. The conduct of each other parties, if that conduct is such that it would be in the opinion of the Court be inequitable to disregard it h. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of the marriage any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

  • Yardstick of Equality
    Introduced in the case of White and White 2000 and applies as a means of sharing the value of the assets left after the needs of the parties for housing, child care and day to day living costs have been met. It should be noted that the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 directs the Court to consider, among other factors, the needs, resources and contributions of the parties at the time of trial as well as in the foreseeable future

Whatever your legal query, Franklins Solicitors have the know how to help guide you through the maze of life.