Dealing with your finances as part of divorce is a distressing time for many people. At Birketts we aim to make the process as straightforward as possible by offering clear legal advice. To assist you a glossary of divorce terms has been produced.

Arbitration

An alternative way to resolve matters, similar to court proceedings, where an impartial adjudicator makes a decision on behalf of the parties.

Award

The name given to the decision of the Arbitrator in an Arbitration. 

Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV)

The estimated value of your pension. This is the figure used by experts when assessing the fairness of a financial settlement between spouses.

Clean Break

A provision in a court order which prohibits either party (or both parties) from making a financial claim against the other, in life and after death. A clean break can be in relation to income only (for example prohibiting claims for maintenance), capital only (for example prohibiting claims for property, a lump sum, pensions), or both. A clean break can be provided for in a consent order, (which is agreed between parties and approved by a judge) or in financial remedy order as part of financial court proceedings.

Collaborative Process

Where you and your spouse agree not to go to court to resolve your matter, and instead agree to resolve your dispute through direct negotiations with your solicitors in support. If either of you makes an application to court, after agreeing to resolve the dispute without court proceedings, your solicitor in the collaborative process can no longer act for you.

Consent Order

An agreement the parties have reached voluntarily, which is submitted to the court for approval. If approved, a court order is legally binding. This can be done without ever starting formal court proceedings, or during court proceedings, if agreement is reached.

Counsel

A barrister. A barrister is generally instructed by your solicitor, to form part of your legal team and to represent you at a court hearing. 

Court Application

An application to the court to start court proceedings, usually an application is made to ask the court for a financial remedy. 

Court Directions

An order from the court detailing what needs to be done by the respective parties, before the next hearing. This could include the valuation of a property, commissioning a report from a pensions on divorce expert, or for more detailed financial disclosure.

Court Fee

Depending on the type of application, a court fee may be payable when submitting an application to the court.

Court proceedings

Where a dispute cannot be resolved by other means, a party can make an application to the court for the matter to be 'heard' by a judge. This starts court proceedings during which there could be a number of hearings. You (or your barrister) can negotiate during the court hearing (at a time when you are not sitting in front of a judge), and try to reach agreement at any stage of your matter. A judge will only make a decision regarding how assets and liabilities are to be divided, at a final hearing.

Direct Access

Where you instruct a barrister directly yourself, without a solicitor doing so on your behalf. This would generally be the case if you were not formally instructing a solicitor in court proceedings.

District Judge

A type of legally trained judge who deals with a majority of cases in the County Court.
Statement of Information Form (D81): A form which is filed with the court when applying for a Consent Order in order to provide information about the parties' respective financial circumstances. This allows the court to decide if the financial arrangements you have agreed with your spouse are appropriate.

FDA

First Directions Appointment – the first hearing in financial remedy proceedings. Sometimes judges convert an FDA to an FDR hearing (see below).

FDR

Financial Dispute Resolution – a Judge led hearing to encourage parties to reach an agreement in financial remedy proceedings. A judge at an FDR can give an 'indication’ of the range of possible outcomes at a final hearing. This indication is not legally binding, it is to provide you with a guide as to what to expect if you do not agree with your spouse. Neither party can refer to what the judge has said in subsequent hearings, if agreement is not reached.

Financial Disclosure

The process of providing full details of all of your financial circumstances to your spouse including any documents which confirm the details given. This can be done by the parties on a voluntary basis, or within Financial Remedy Proceedings.

Financial Remedy Order

A decision made by a judge at the end of financial court proceedings. 

Final Hearing

This is the last hearing within court proceedings. Not all matters progress to a Final Hearing, but this is the only hearing where a judge can make a decision for you – commonly referred to as an order. Sometimes judges decide to 'convert' an FDR to a final hearing, to enable them to make a decision for you then.

Financial Remedy

The name of the process for achieving financial settlement following a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership.

Form A

An application to the court to ask it to start court proceedings for finances. When the court receives the application, it will list a First Directions Appointment (see FDA above).

Form E

The standard form that is required by the Court so that the to parties disclose their assets, income and liabilities to one another. 

Joint Tenants

The ownership of property is divided into to two types: legal and beneficial ownership. If the legal interest in a property is held by more than one person, the presumption is that they hold their beneficial interest in the property as joint tenants. This means that they each own an equal but unspecified share in the property. If one joint tenant dies before the other, their interest passes automatically to the survivor, regardless of the terms of a Will. (Where the parties own an unequal share they are said to own as Tenants in Common).

Legal Aid

If you cannot afford to pay legal fees, you could explore the possibility of receiving financial assistance with this. Legal aid can cover some or all of your legal fees, if you are eligible. There are strict eligibility requirements for legal aid, these include that you or your children must have suffered domestic abuse, or the abuser has a criminal conviction. There are also financial requirements.

Matrimonial Homes Rights Restriction

If your spouse owns your matrimonial home in their sole name, a Matrimonial Homes Rights Restriction can be put in place against the legal title of the property by the Land Registry. This should prevent the other party from being able to sell or remortgage the property. The effect of a restriction will end once you are divorced.

Mediation

A process to encourage parties to reach an agreement together by sitting around a table with an experienced, impartial, family mediator. Mediation is not legally binding but frequently agreements reached in mediation are converted into an order of the court.

Net Sale Proceeds

The amount of money left from the sale of a property, after the deduction of associated costs and debts. These can include a mortgage, estate agents fees and conveyancing solicitor’s fees.

Notional Costs of Sale

The estimate of the costs of a sale of a property, which are deducted from its value. This enables your solicitor to calculate an estimate of how much equity may be left for division between spouses, after a sale.

Official Copies

The documents provided by the Land Registry which detail the key information in relation to a property. For example where it is, who is said to be the owner, and whether the property has a mortgage.

Order

A decision made by a judge.

Remarriage Trap

If an individual divorces their spouse, and does not make the court aware of any intention to make a financial claim in relation to that spouse, if the individual re-marries, they lose the right to make financial claims for capital (including property or a lump sum) and income (maintenance). In these circumstances, it may still be possible to make a claim for an ex-spouses pension even after re-marriage. Where the court is aware of an intention to make a financial claim, and the individual remarries, an application for maintenance may not be pursued further, but it may be pursued in relation to capital and pensions.

Separation Agreement

A type of agreement reflecting how property and liabilities may be divided between spouses on separation.

Tenants in common

If you own a property legally between the two of you, you may want to set out details of your respective shares. This is particularly important if you have unequal shares. Owning as Tenants in Common is the technical term for this. It is possible to convert ownership as Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common, by serving a notice on the other co-owner(s) to do this. If the property is held as Tenants in Common each co-owner can leave their share under their Will to whoever they wish. 

Undertaking

A strict legal promise usually made by the parties to the court as part of a court order. If broken there can be sanctions imposed by the court, to include, in rare cases, imprisonment.

Without prejudice offer

When an offer of settlement is made in a genuine attempt to settle a dispute, it can be marked ‘without prejudice’. This means that it will be kept secret from a judge in court proceedings. This enables parties to try and negotiate without appearing to admit ‘fault’. There are exceptions to this.

Open offer

An offer of settlement which is not ‘without prejudice’ is an open offer. This would not be kept secret from a judge in court proceedings, so they would be able to view the communications between parties.