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.
Internationally it has two separate meanings. First, it is the provision made by court orders or administrative agencies for child support (see CSA) or for spousal support, often known as alimony. Secondly, in the context of enforcement of maintenance abroad, it means any financial order which provides for needs, which is generously interpreted but specifically does not include fairness sharing.
Maintenance pending suit
Aka interim periodical payments or mps – maintenance to provide for short term income needs before the final settlement; can include provision for payment of ongoing legal costs by the other party.
An injunction order to stop the use or disposal of assets e.g. bank accounts, properties etc until the final hearing. Often granted when it is feared one spouse will get rid of assets to defeat the other’s claim. Includes assets abroad. Now known as a “freezing order”
A state registered relationship (which can take place in religious or other public places) between a man and a woman.
See Miller. Resources acquired during the marriage. Excludes pre relationship assets, gifts, inheritances, some post separation assets and some business assets. They are often divided equally, subject to needs. Non matrimonial assets are less likely to be shared but will be increasingly brought into sharing with longer marriages.
A process of negotiation between a couple, assisted by professionals who may be lawyers; it runs alongside the advice given by lawyers but offers a different way for couples to resolve themselves the issues they face. It is not to be confused with counselling. In orthodox mediation, the mediators can say if a proposed outcome is unlikely to be upheld by a court. Directive mediation often includes a couple’s lawyers present in the mediation room and the mediator is able to direct what would happen if the case were to be heard in court in order to help produce a settlement.
Memorandum of understanding
The document at the end of mediation that expresses the proposed deal.
A major House of Lords decision in May 2006 with the case of MacFarlane. Stated that fairness was the objective of ancillary relief law on divorce. Fairness was found in needs, sharing and compensation. Reaffirmed equality as a starting point with in practice the importance of needs in most cases as basis for settlements. It stopped conduct and special contribution in non exceptional cases. It was a complex judgement raising more questions than answers and was dealt with a year later by the Court of Appeal in Charman. See fact sheet.
A manner in which the very wealthy could avoid detailed disclosure as unnecessary for a final settlement. Now largely obsolete following White.
An order made in one country which reflects the original order made in another country. Often made in circumstances where contact arrangements have been agreed and the child will then be living in another country. The mirror order means that the courts of the country where the child will later be living are aware of the original arrangements and they give protection for the other parent in the other country.
As in non-molestation injunction – refers to a court order prohibiting (usually) most forms of conduct that could in any way harass or pester the applicant or any children. Made in the context of domestic violence/abuse cases.