A list of family law terminology to help better understand what lawyers are talking about and some of the specific terms used. This glossary provides general information only. Professional advice should always be taken and we cannot accept any liability for reliance on it.
This refers to all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent can have in relation to a child such as education or medical treatment. Where parents are married at the time of a child’s birth or subsequently marry or if the father is named on the birth certificate, they each have parental responsibility. Where this is not the case, the mother has parental responsibility alone until she agrees that the father should have it (a short form must be filed at court) or the court grants it to the father. Each parent with parental responsibility may act alone, although responsible parenthood means endeavouring to agree matters with the other parent. Similar to the previously used “custody”.
An order dividing up the pension on divorce so that the recipient has a share of their spouse’s pension which can often be transferred to a pension scheme of their own. Considerable care is needed when reaching settlements in respect of foreign pension schemes
The document which starts a divorce. (A cross petition is a petition presented by a Respondent to an existing divorce proceedings.) Can be signed by a solicitor. Fee of £300. Filed with the marriage certificate and a certificate of any attempted reconciliation. Accompanied by a Statement of Arrangements for Children, which is signed by Petitioner. See Guide to Divorce Procedure.
Is the spouse who presents a petition; s/he will generally continue to be referred to as “the Petitioner” throughout the proceedings – see also “Respondent” and “Co-respondent” and “Applicant”.
In certain circumstances they are recognised under English law as valid marriages. It is important to distinguish between actual polygamous marriages where one spouse is already married and potentially polygamous marriages where under the law of the country where the marriage took place one spouse might subsequently take another spouse.
Pre marriage agreements
Sometimes made before marriage to provide for what happens on any later divorce. At present they are not binding on the English divorce courts (although they may be in other countries) but they can help negotiations and are increasingly taken into account, dependent upon the circumstances including separate legal advice and disclosure. See fact sheet.
Principle Registry of the Family Division (PRFD)
The primary family court, based at First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, WC1B 6NP, 0207 947 6000, near the top of Chancery Lane, nearest tube being Chancery Lane. About 8 floors and 20 court rooms. Most hearings are private although friends can accompany parties and wait outside the court in the many waiting rooms. Listings, i.e. which judge and which court room, are known by 4 pm the day before and are on the web. Usually best to meet your lawyers outside the actual court room. Details well posted in the reception area. Some hearings may be at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Gothic lookalike in the Strand. Usually meet your lawyer in the vast atrium entrance hall after the security X ray machines, as the building is a total maze!
Prohibited Steps Order
Forbids the taking of certain steps in relation to a child, e.g. removing him/her from the UK or from the care of a certain person.