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Glossary of Legal Terms

We set out below a list of family law terminology to try and assist you in better understand what lawyers are talking about and some of the specific terms used. This glossary provides general information only. Specialist professional advice should always be taken and we cannot accept any liability for reliance on it.

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D

Decree

A decree is a form of divorce order. Decree absolute is the final order of a divorce, ending the marriage and giving the right to remarry. Decree Nisi is the unavoidable step before decree absolute where the parties know that the marriage will be ended when a Decree Absolute application is made.

A Petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi to be converted into a decree absolute after six weeks and one day have passed from the Decree Nisi. The Respondent can only ask the court to convert after a further three months have passed. There can be material advantages to delaying the final decree until the final financial outcome is in place.

Department of Constitutional Affaires

Also known as the DCA, formerly Lord Chancellor's Dept, known in most countries as the Ministry of Justice.

Detailed Assessment

The process by which the court decides what sum one party should pay towards the costs of the other.

Directive Mediation

See Mediation

Disclosure

The provision of information, most often referred to in the context of provision of financial information in order to reach a financial settlement on divorce or other relationship breakdown. In England, disclosure is required of all assets, income and resources whenever acquired and, worldwide, including those held in the name of third parties such as trusts, companies and family members. There are extensive court powers to obtain disclosure. A reliable and fair financial settlement cannot be obtained without reliable complete disclosure.

Dissolution

A termination of a civil partnership. The Procedure is broadly the same as divorce but instead of a Decree Nisi there is a conditional order and instead of a Decree Absolute there is a final order.

Divorce

A termination of a marriage.

Domicile

Domicile is a legal term referring to the country/state with which a person has the strongest long term connection. It is not necessarily where a person may be living e.g. for employment. It is a question of fact. A person can only have one domicile at any one time. It is not possible to have no domicile or two or more domiciles. It is a stronger connection than mere residence or habitual residence.

A person is born with a domicile of origin which is dependent on their parents. The domicile of origin continues unless and until it is displaced or replaced by a domicile of choice. This is a positive choice and decision by someone to make another country their long-term connection, invariably accompanied by an intention of permanent or indefinite residence. It ends the domicile of origin. When a person then permanently or indefinitely leaves that country of their domicile of choice, either they choose a new domicile of choice or, if they do not, the domicile of origin again takes effect. Admitting domicile carries tax and immigration consequences so care is needed. If in doubt, legal advice should be taken.

DX

A postal system operating between most solicitors, barristers, banks, mortgage lenders etc. Next day delivery is pretty much guaranteed and losses are rare.

 

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