Glossary of frequently used language in family law

Acknowledgement of Service (Form 4)Standard court form, served with the divorce petition on the person who is the receiving party (the respondent).   The form must be completed by the respondent to acknowledge receipt of the petition.  The respondent must declare on the form whether they intend to defend the petition or not. 
Adultery Sexual intercourse (which must include penetration) between a spouse and a person other than their spouse.   Adultery establishes a ground for divorce. 
Act of Court A Court Order (which may include orders around case management, costs or a judgment dealing with a final decision or an appeal). 
ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)Methods of resolving legal disputes to avoid a fully contested final hearing at court.  ADR is a less adversarial approach and includes methods such as Mediation, Financial Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) or Arbitration. 
Affidavit Sworn document in written format (akin to giving evidence in court under oath). 
Affidavit of Means Comprehensive document usually completed as part of the formal financial disclosure process within divorce proceedings, complicated child maintenance cases or variation cases. 
Applicant The person who initiates proceedings in respect of the children. 
Ancillary reliefA financial claim brought by a spouse when petitioning for divorce, nullity or judicial separation.  An application for ancillary relief can be for a capital sum, maintenance payments (spousal support), a property adjustment order or a combination of all or any of them. 
AnnulmentThe dissolution of a marriage in proceedings during which the marriage is declared null and void as though it never occurred. 
Answer A written defence to a divorce petition (by the respondent). 
Case Review Hearing A hearing before the Family Division (usually for 1 hour but this can vary). 
Child Maintenance Money that the non-resident parent pays to the resident parent for their child(ren)’s support or in the event of a shared care where there is good reason to pay child maintenance such as there being a disparity in the income positions of the parents. 
Child of the family A child who has been treated by a married couple as a child of the family.  Step children can be children of the family. 
Clean break A financial settlement by which neither party has an ongoing financial commitment to the other during their lifetimes or on death.  This may be difficult to achieve when there is an ongoing obligation to maintain children. 
Contact The non-resident parent’s time with children.  
Contested divorce When the respondent contests the divorce petition. 
Consent Order An agreement between parties which has been made legally binding and enforceable by a court. 
Co-Respondent An individual named in a divorce petition with whom the adulterous party has had sexual intercourse.   A co-respondent must be named and served with the divorce papers and has a right to respond. 
Court fees (Court stamps) Fees charged by the Court for processing applications and consent orders.
Custody This is an English term and is recognised in Jersey as “contact” (see “contact” for description of term). 
Decree The court’s written order or decision finalising the divorce, often issued in conjunction with the court’s judgment. 
Decree AbsoluteCertificate which dissolves the marriage (2nd and final certificate on the divorce process). 
Decree Nisi Certificate recording that divorce can proceed to Decree Absolute within appropriate timeframe (1st of 2 certificates in the divorce process). 
Decree Nisi hearing Paper hearing at which time the Registrar considers the divorce papers and grants the Decree Nisi if she is satisfied that the legal requirements to proceed are met. 
Disclosure process The formal information-exchanging process, including the completion and exchange of pleadings such as Affidavits of Means, Questionnaires and Replies to Questionnaires. 
Divorce / Dissolution Another word for divorce, which is the legal termination of a marriage relationship. 
Divorce papers Consisting of the various forms and documents required to get divorced usually; divorce petition;form 5 (statement of arrangements for children) (if there are children);form 3 (notice of proceedings);form 4 (acknowledgement of service);form 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 (affidavit in support of petition);form 20 (application for Greffier’s certificate (undefended)); form 12 (application for decree absolute). 
Domestic abuse (including violence, financial control etc)Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following: Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence);Psychological and/or emotional abuse;Physical or sexual abuse;Financial or economic abuse;Harassment and stalking; and/orOnline or digital abuse. 
Domicile The legal relationship between an individual and a country.  Domicile is usually established by an individual being resident in a country with an intention to make it their permanent home. 
Family Division or Family Court Division of Royal Court in respect of which family matters are heard. 
Final Hearing If matters cannot be agreed by consent and the Court’s determination is required the case will be determined at a contested final hearing. 
Former matrimonial home (or matrimonial home) The property at which the parties lived together before separating.  
Guardian An individual appointed to represent the interests of a child. 
Grounds of divorce There are several grounds available to issue divorce proceedings (one of which must apply); separation (one year with the respondent’s consent and two years which does not require the respondent’s consent);adultery;unreasonable behaviour;desertion;imprisonment; orunsound mind. 
Injunction A court order that prevents an individual from certain behaviour or directs certain behaviour (e.g. not to come into contact with someone, to leave a property or to freeze accounts).  Failure to comply with the order may result in imprisonment. 
Judicial Separation An alternative to divorce. Whilst not ending the marriage it allows the court to look at the financial arrangements between the parties.  It is usually used when the parties have an overriding reason for not wanting a divorce (such as religion or they have not been married for 3 years and therefore cannot issue proceedings). 
Matrimonial (or marital) property Property (in all forms i.e. property, business assets, stocks, shares, etc) which was acquired during the marriage. 
Maintenance pending suit / interim maintenance A temporary order by a court for maintenance to be paid until ancillary relief proceedings are concluded.   Maintenance pending suit may include a lump sum or sums paid in instalments. 
Non Matrimonial property Property (in all forms i.e. property, business assets, stocks, shares, etc) which was not acquired during the marriage, usually either acquired before the parties met or post separation (i.e. bonuses in respect of a period which does not span the period of the marriage). 
Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility means that a person or people have the right to make decisions about a child or children. This might be making decisions about what school they go to, what religion they follow or what health care they have. 
Parental Responsibility Agreement A legal document in which a child’s mother and father (if they were not married when the child was born) agree that the father will have Parental Responsibility for the child in addition to the mother.
Party (parties) Any of the following; the Petitioner/Applicant, Respondent or Co-Respondent. 
Petitioner The person who initiates divorce proceedings. 
Periodical payments (or spousal maintenance or spousal support) Regular payments by one party of a marriage to another for a term or joint lives.   It is not possible to achieve a clean break whilst spousal maintenance is payable.  Either party can apply to vary the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. 
Post-Nuptial AgreementAn agreement reached between a married couple after the date of the marriage, which provides for what should happen in the event of divorce. 
Preliminary Directions Hearing Also known as a ‘first appointment’ this is the first stage in the courts following an application for ancillary relief.  The party who has issued the Summons can ask for case management directions from the Court to move the case along (usually relating to interim maintenance, disclosure or valuations). 
Pre-Nuptial Agreement An agreement reached between a couple before the marriage, which provides for what should happen in the event of divorce. 
Questionnaire Following the exchange of Affidavits of Means, if either party has further questions, these are raised in a Questionnaire and those questions are answered in the Reply to Questionnaire. 
Reply to Questionnaire Following the exchange of Questionnaires, the questions asked are answered in the Reply to Questionnaire. 
Residence Where one party is granted sole residence of a child or the children. 
Respondent The person against whom legal papers are filed. 
Separation Agreement Records agreements reached between an unmarried couple or a couple who have elected not to issue divorce proceedings. 
Shared residence (or shared care) When the residence of a child or children is shared with another (usually both parents).
Spousal maintenance See periodical payments. 
Uncontested divorce When the respondent does not contest the divorce petition. 
Undertaking A promise to do something punishable, usually in costs, if not adhered. 
Variation When one party seeks to vary an Order previously made by the Court.

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