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Divorce Glossary

At Birketts we aim to make the process as straightforward as possible.

To assist you a glossary of divorce terms has been put together.


The individual who applies to the court for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.


The individual who responds to a sole divorce application. 

A family court judge/legally trained advisor who reviews the divorce application and decides whether to grant a Conditional Order.

One year bar

In England and Wales the parties must have been married for a minimum of 12 months before they are able to obtain a divorce.

Separation Agreement

A document setting out the terms agreed between the parties usually before divorce proceedings are issued. These agreements are often used if parties do not currently qualify for a divorce (i.e. the one year bar applies – see above), or alternatively they want to delay the proceedings for a period of time.

Divorce application

the document which is filed with the court in order to start divorce proceedings. The application refers to the marriage as having irretrievably broken down. It is no longer necessary for the parties to have been separated for a period of time or for there to be any allegation of behaviour or adultery.

A divorce application can either be sole (where one party issues and the other responds) or joint (where both parties to the marriage together ask the court for a divorce).

Civil Partnership Dissolution Application

A similar process to divorce for couples who have been in a Civil Partnership for at least a year.

Acknowledgement of Service

The form the court sends to the Respondent (usually via email) in order to respond to the divorce/dissolution application.


The document which is filed with the court when disputing a divorce/civil partnership application. It is only possible to dispute a divorce application on three grounds:

  1. The court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings;
  2. The marriage/civil partnership is not valid; or
  3. The marriage/civil partnership has already legally ended.

Conditional Order

The provisional order indicating the court accepts that the Applicant(s) is entitled to a divorce. The Conditional Order does not finally end the marriage/civil partnership.


Under the new law (with effect from 6 April 2022), it will rarely be appropriate for the court to make costs orders in divorce proceedings.

Conditional Order

A declaration from the court confirming that you are entitled to dissolve your Civil Partnership. It is the first of two stages to getting your civil partnership dissolved – the second stage is getting a final order (see below).

Final Order

Marriage/civil partnership to an end.

Extremely empathetic and client orientated thus ensuring that difficult situations were made understandable.

Legal 500 [UK 2022]

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