Family Law News

Understanding divorce jargon - a glossary of terms

Understanding divorce jargon

If you are going through divorce proceedings there may be terms you hear that you are unfamiliar with.

Our Family Law Team has created a handy glossary of terms. This will explain some of the divorce jargon you’re most likely to encounter.

Alternative dispute resolution

This refers to methods of resolving disagreements that do not involve the courts.

Your solicitor can negotiate with your partner’s solicitor to try to reach agreements over issues such as property, finances and children.

Where this is not successful, other forms of dispute resolution are generally used. For example, mediation or collaborative law. These are usually quicker and more cost-effective than litigation. They can also prevent a relationship from deteriorating further.


The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support System (CAFCASS) is a public body. It advises courts on what is in the best interests of children.

CAFCASS works with families to understand the needs of children and the ability of family members to meet those needs before preparing reports for the court.

Child Arrangements Order

This is a legally binding order. It sets out details of who a child will live with.

It will also include what time they will spend with their other parent and how they will stay in touch with their parents while they are apart.

The arrangements can be made by agreement of the parties and approved by the court. Where the parties cannot agree, the court can be asked to decide on the terms of the order.

Clean break

A clean break refers to a financial order on divorce that ends the parties’ financial obligations to each other.

Consent Order

When the parties are able to agree on issues between themselves, for example in respect of children, property or finances, the court can be asked to make a consent order in the terms agreed.

This means that the agreement will be legally binding.

Decree Nisi / Conditional Order and Decree Absolute/ Final Order

A Decree Nisi is an interim order in the divorce process, giving notice of an impending divorce.

The Decree Absolute is the final order, meaning a couple are divorced.

These terms are due to be replaced with ‘Conditional Order’ and ‘Final Order’ respectively.

Final hearing

The final hearing in a divorce is the one when a final order will be made setting out what is to happen in respect of contested matters.

Financial dispute resolution hearing

A financial dispute resolution hearing is an interim hearing when a judge works with a couple to try to resolve financial disagreements.

The judge will not make an order, but can suggest what the outcome of a final hearing might be. If the matter proceeds to a final hearing, a different judge will hear the case.

Form E

Form E is where all financial information should be listed where the parties in a divorce are seeking a financial order.

Its aim is to disclose in full the financial circumstances of both parties, to include property, income, savings and investments, pensions and anticipated income and expenditure.

You will also need to provide details of your family situation.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

This is an initial meeting with a mediator.

The mediation process will be explained and you will have a chance to consider whether it will be helpful in your situation.

If you are unable to resolve certain issues, it is generally compulsory to attend a MIAM before applying to the court for an order.

Parental responsibility

This refers to the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities a parent has towards a child.

It is automatically given to birth mothers as well as to married fathers and unmarried fathers who are named on the birth certificate.

Help with divorce proceedings

Our Family Law Team –  made up of chartered legal executives Lyndsey Kiley and Amanda Long, solicitor Lauren Townson and paralegal Kimberley Emmett – regularly handles divorce proceedings and can assist you with any queries you may have.

Our Family Team has years of experience so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands no matter which member you choose.

We have offices at Fulwood and Buckshaw Village. You can reach any of our team by calling 01772 799 600.

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