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Glossary of divorce & family law terms
Letter C

Our glossary will help you to understand some of the key terms and phrases which might crop up in your legal case.

This guide is no replacement for top legal advice but will allow you to know more about the process and what it entails.

For leading legal advice tailored to your case, contact Vardags today.

Please select from the letters below


The application form used for issuing children proceedings.


Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – a statutory body that provides advice to the court in children proceedings.


An expert report produced in children proceedings which helps advise the court on the best outcome for the children

Calderbank offer

The legal term for an offer that is made ‘without prejudice save as to costs’. This means that the offer will only be revealed in court proceedings dealing with a costs dispute.

Capitalisation of maintenance

When maintenance is paid as one large lump sum, rather than as ongoing installments.

Case law

Legal rules or guidelines created by the decisions of judges in previous cases.


Cash equivalent transfer value - the capital value of a pension fund.


An old piece of law which prevents lawyers from working on a case in exchange for a percentage of the settlement.

Charging order

One of the orders used for enforcement of a court award. This entitles the creditor party to a share in property or stocks owned by the debtor.


The personal property of the parties, including furniture, cars, artwork and other items.

Child arrangement order (CAO)

An order setting out who a child should live with and how much time they should spend with the other parent.

Child Maintenance

Money paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child, by way of periodical payments.

Child Maintenance Service

A government body set up to calculate and manage child maintenance claims.

Child of the family

A biological child, step child or adopted child which has been treated by the parties as a child belonging to their family.

Children Act 1989

Statute law which governs most of the law relating to children.

Child’s best interests

The primary concern in children proceedings, looking at what is best for the child's welfare.

Circuit Judge

The second lowest level of judge. These judges hear cases at local County Courts.

Civil partnership

Legal recognition of a same-sex relationship, introduced in 2005. Now an alternative to same sex marriage.

Clean Break

Where all financial claims are dealt with and there is no ongoing maintenance or support payable.

CMS Calculator

The calculator used by the Child Maintenance Service to work out how much child maintenance someone should receive or pay.

Cohabitation agreement

An agreement between cohabitees setting out what will happen to their property and their assets should their relationship breakdown.


A couple who live together but are not married.

Collaborative divorce

A process in which the parties try to work together to reach a settlement.


The principle that different countries should support each others' legal systems and enforce orders made overseas.

Committal order

An order sending someone to prison for breaches of other court orders.

Common law husband or wife

People who are not married, but live together as if husband and wife. In England and Wales, such people have none of the legal rights of marriage.

Community Service Order

An order that a person carry out 40 to 200 hours of unpaid work, can be made in children proceedings if a person fails to comply with a child arrangements order.

Companies House

Body responsible for the UK corporate register.


The behavior of one of the parties, either during the marriage or in litigation.

Consent order

An order sealed by the court setting out an agreement by the parties.

Constructive trust

A trust that does not have a formal declaration of trust, but which is created by a party inducing another to act in a certain way because they believe that they will receive a share in an asset.

Contact centre

A service provided to facilitate supervised contact.

Contact in the community

Time spent with a child which is restricted to taking place in public places.

Contact order

Now incorporated in Child Arrangements Orders, an order setting out how much time a child spends with the non-resident parent.

Contempt of court

A person is in contempt when they defy a court order. They can be fined or, in certain circumstances, jailed.

Contingency fee

Also known as “no win, no fee”

Corporate register

Register kept by a government body setting out how companies are owned and showing the public accounts of the company.

Corporate veil

The legal position that a company’s property is separate from the property of the owners of the company.


The legal fees, VAT and any disbursements. The costs will be set out in the Form H.

Court fees

Money paid to the court to issue proceedings and applications. These are separate from the fees paid to lawyers.

Court of Appeal

The second highest court in England and Wales. The court reviews decisions made by the lower courts.

Cross examination

Where one party is asked questions by the other in court (usually by a barrister).

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.


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Founder & President Ayesha Vardag Founder & President Divorce & Family
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Senior Partner - Divorce & Family David Lister
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