What does it mean?
We’ve tried not to use legal jargon in this guide. However, you are likely to come across it in the course of dealing with your divorce. Here is our quick guide to what it all means.
Acknowledgement of Service form - this is the form the person who does not start the divorce/ dissolution proceedings uses to confirm that they have received the petition and to tell their ex-partner whether they’re going to object to it or not.
Annulment – a court order confirming that a marriage is invalid. For example, if you didn’t properly consent to it, the woman was pregnant by another man at the time of the wedding, or you have not had sex since you were married.
Answer - the name given to the formal reply to the divorce petition from the ex-partner who did not start the divorce or dissolution proceedings.
Applicant - the name given to the person who starts proceedings asking the court to decide about financial or children arrangements.
Application for a decree nisi/conditional order - this is the form the person who is asking for the divorce/dissolution uses to ask for a decree nisi or conditional order.
Certificate of entitlement to a decree - this tells you the date and time when the judge will grant your decree nisi.
Co-respondent – a person named in a divorce petition as having committed adultery (had full heterosexual sex) with the person who is being divorced. It is very unusual to name the other person these days as it just complicates matters.
Conditional order - the second step in dissolving a civil partnership. It is a court order confirming that you are entitled to the dissolution of your civil partnership.
Decree absolute – the final step in getting a divorce. It is a court order that proves you are divorced and free to remarry.
Decree nisi – the second step in getting a divorce. It is a court order confirming that you are entitled to a divorce.
Divorce county courts - these are county courts that deal with divorce cases. A few of them also deal with the dissolution of civil partnerships.
Facts – the reason your marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably.
Fee remission - the reduction or cancellation of a court fee.
Filing – this just means giving a legal form or document to the court.
Final order – a court order that proves your civil partnership is dissolved and you are free to register a new civil partnership.
Judicial separation – is a process that confirms you are separated and no longer have to live together. It doesn’t end a marriage or civil partnership like divorce or dissolution.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) - a meeting with a qualified family mediator to see if mediation is suitable for your situation. If you want to go to court over a family problem (like how to divide money or property after splitting up or where the children should live, for example) you have to show the court that you have met with a mediator first and considered mediation, that you have tried to, or that you are exempt. See ‘Sorting out arrangements after you have split up - Could Family Mediation help you?’ for more details.
Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute or conditional order to be made final - this is the form the person who asked for the divorce uses to ask the court to make a decree nisi, absolute or a conditional order, final.
Notice of satisfaction with the arrangements for the children – a document telling you that the judge is happy with the arrangements you have made for the children’s future.
Petition – A ‘petition’ is an old fashioned word for asking for something. It’s also the name given to the form you use to apply for a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership.
Petitioner - the name given to the person who starts proceedings to end a marriage or civil partnership.
Respondent - the name given to the ex-partner who does not start the divorce or dissolution proceedings or the proceedings relating to financial or children arrangements.
Serve – delivery of court documents, usually by hand or post.
Statement in support of divorce - this is the form that confirms the details are still the same as your petition and statement of arrangements for children (or allows you to change them). It also asks you to confirm that what you say is true. If you give false information you risk being in contempt of court and could face prison or a fine.
Statement of arrangements for children - the form the person who asked for the divorce completes if they or their ex-partner have any children under 18. It explains what arrangements they are suggesting for the children’s future.
Statement of case – this is the details the person who asks for the divorce submits which briefly outline the reasons the marriage or civil partnership broke down irretrievably. For example, if they are asking for the divorce because of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ it will outline a few examples of unreasonable behaviour.