Legal Jargon Explained by SolicitorsFirm

Law is an extremely specialised subject and can be quite complicated. Much of the wording in law has very specific meanings and it is easy to become confused with all the jargon.

This section is designed to explain the meanings of some of the jargon you are likely to come across in divorce proceedings.

This section is a guide only. Should you still have any questions, you are always welcome to contact us.

Legal Jargon Explained:

Mediation: a process in which trained independent mediators try to help a couple reach agreement about arrangements to be made for children and finances after divorce

Issue Fee: the fee payable to the court to issue and file an application to be heard by a judge. for divorce the issue fee is currently £300.

If you are on a low income you may be eligible for a reduction or even a waiver of this fee

Barristers: A member of one of the four Inns of Court who has been called to the Bar. Barristers have the exclusive rights of audience in the High Court and the superior courts.

Barristers usually specialise in one or two areas of law. They practice out of a set of Chambers. Members of the public are not permitted to contact barristers directly. Barristers can only receive instructions from Solicitors. Another name for a barrister is counsel.

Solicitor: A person who is qualified to conduct legal proceedings or to advise on legal matters. Solicitors must have been admitted as a solicitor and their name must appear on the Roll of Solicitors at the Law Society of England & Wales.

Solicitors are always the first point of contact for members of public requiring legal advice.

Divorce Grounds: in England & Wales there is only one ground for divorce and that is the ‘irretrievable breakdown‘ of the marriage. The ground for divorce must be supported by at least one of the facts of divorce

Domicile: the legal relationship between an individual and a country, usually arising from residence there with the intention of making it his or her permanent home

Facts: divorce in England & Wales must be based on one of only 5 facts. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, desertion or five years separation

Petition: A written statement addressed to the Court, setting out the Facts on which the Petitioner seeks a divorce or nullity. Petitions are used in many different areas of the law.

For a divorce, the proceedings must be commenced with the Petitioner lodging a Petition at court. This will form the basis on which the divorce is being sought.

Petitioner: The person who files the Petition at court is known as the Petitioner. This will normally be you, if you are applying for the divorce. If your spouse has applied for the divorce, then they would be the Petitioner.

Prohibitive Steps Order: an order prohibiting specific steps in relation to a child, for example a change of surname or removal from England & Wales

Respondent: The person against whom the Petition is filed. If you are the person applying for the divorce then your spouse would be the Respondent.

Statement of Arrangements for Children: the form which has to be sent to the court with the petition if there are children involved, which sets out the arrangements proposed for those children after the divorce takes place

Acknowledgement of Service Form: the form by which the respondent (or co-respondent in adultery cases) acknowledges having received the divorce petition and confirms whether or not they agree with the divorce

Affidavit: A written statement of fact or truth made by a person, called the deponent. Affidavits must be signed and sworn or affirmed. There are many different varieties of Affidavits.

In divorce proceedings an affidavit is a document that we send to the court when we are applying for the actual Decree of divorce. The affidavit is a statement telling the court that everything in your divorce petition is true and accurate.

You have to take your affidavit to another solicitor, or a Commissioner for Oaths, who will ask you to sign it, say a form of words and will then witness your signature. The affidavit is the same thing as giving evidence on oath, without having to go to court.

Decree Nisi: the provisional order indicating that the court is satisfied that the ground for divorce has been established

Decree Absolute: the final order of the court which brings the marriage to an end

Ancillary Relief: this is the general term used for the various financial orders which a court can make when couples are divorcing

Consent Order: an order made by a court giving effect to the terms agreed between husband and wife

Contact Order: this is often called ‘access’. It is the arrangement by which a child sees the parent or other individual with whom he or she does not live

Residence Order

Specific Issues Order



Non-Molestation Order

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Child Support Agency

Unmarried Couples

Counsel: A Barrister

Same Sex Marriage

Islamic Marriages & Dowry

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