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Divorce jargon explained

19 July 2022 | Alice Gibson

At GL Law we believe in explaining the legal process in terms that are easy to understand. However, the divorce process is plagued with acronyms and unwieldy names for various forms. Here’s our quick-glance guide to divorce jargon. 

Acknowledgement of Service 

In order to acknowledge that you have received your divorce papers you will need to complete an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form that is sent from the Court. This form will also inform the Court about whether the divorce will be defended or not. 


This is a written statement that is sworn to be true. It is a statement that is signed under oath and is a legally binding document. 


This refers to a payment that must be made to a former spouse by their husband or wife after divorce. These payments may be made for your former spouse or children. 


If you have lost your case in Court, then you have the right to appeal. This is a request that is made for the higher court to review the judgement. 


This means that the hearing has been postponed to a later date. 


This is the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. An officer from Cafcass can be brought in to assist the court with matters relating to children. 

Child Support 

This is money that needs to be paid by the non-custodial parent (the parent the children do not live with) to the custodial parent (who the children live with). 


If one of you are accused of adultery, then the term ‘co-respondent’ refers to the individual that you are alleged to be involved with. 

Decree absolute 

The decree of absolute is the legal document that ends your marriage. 

Decree nisi 

This is a document which says the court doesn’t see any reason as to why you cannot divorce.  


This is where you are asked to disclose certain financial details, such as income, assets and liabilities.  


This is the net value of the property, after paying off the mortgage or other debts associated with it. 

First directions appointment (FDA) 

An FDA refers to the first court appointment in connection with financial disputes in the divorce.  

Financial dispute resolution (FDR) 

An FDR refers to the second court appointment for the financial proceedings in the divorce and allows both parties to negotiate the terms with the Court.  

Financial settlement 

This is a legally binding agreement on how you and your spouse will divide your assets after divorce. 


An injunction is a court order, that requires a person to do or cease doing a specific action. For example, acting abusively. 

Judicial separation 

This is where a couple do not divorce but remain separated. It means that although you are both still married you are no longer a couple.  

Lump sum order 

A lump sum order requires one of the parties to pay a lump sum of money to their former spouse. 


This is a structured, interactive process where a third party (such as a solicitor) aids couples in resolving any conflict through the use of communication and negotiation. 

Non-molestation order 

Like an injunction, a non-molestation order can protect you and any of your children from violence or harassment. It often includes provisions that mean the person who the order is against cannot have contact with the person who has obtained the order or come within a certain distance of the person or home. 


An Oath is a statement you make in court which legally obliges you to tell the truth.  


This is a directive given by the court which is a legal requirement. 


The document which commences the divorce process. 

Pre- or post-nuptial agreement 

A pre-nuptial agreement is a written agreement that specifies how finances will be divided should the marriage end in divorce – this is usually written before the marriage has taken place. 

A post-nuptial agreement is the written statement but has been drafted after the marriage has taken place. 

Prohibited steps order 

This is an order that refrains a parent from doing something with their child and prohibits them from exercising their parental responsibility – such as taking their child out of the country. 


The respondent is the person who is given the application to go to court. 

Separation agreement 

This is an agreement that lays out how joint assets and responsibilities will be divided. 

Tenancy in Common  

If you co-own a property as tenants in common, then you both have shares which you can control independently. 

Without prejudice 

Any documents that are marked as ‘without prejudice’ cannot be shown to the court. 

Specialist family law advice- make a start online

At GL Law we have a team of family lawyers on hand to meet you and talk through your situation. However, if you are ready to start the process you can use the interactive form on our website. It is easy to use, secure, and confidential. It also saves you time and money as it provides our team with your background information, so they are better prepared to give you immediate advice at your first meeting.

You can contact our family law team by calling 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.lawAlternatively, please complete our contact form. 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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