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Glossary of divorce & family law terms
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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

Schedule of Deficiencies

Following the exchange of questionnaires, this can be used to highlight where one party has failed to provide proper answers and full and frank disclosure.

Schedule of Expenses

A document setting out your monthly or annual expenditure, used for calculating maintenance.

Schedule one cases

An application for financial relief in children matters where the mother and father were not married. The case will focus on the needs of the child rather than the mother.

School fees order

An order requiring one spouse to pay some or all of the school fees in relation to a child.

Section 25 factors

The factors set out in s25 of th Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which the court will consider when making financial provision.

Section 25 statement

Statement made in financial proceedings before the final hearing, setting out each parties’ case in relation to the section 25 factors.

Section 28 1 (a) bar

Made under Section 28 1 (A) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, this a bar prevents a maintenance term from being extended.

Section 37 application

Application under section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act to set-aside a transfer where a party has deliberately moved money to avoid it being affected by the divorce.

Section 8 order

An order made in children proceedings, which can be an prohibited steps order, single issue order or child arrangements order.

Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP)

A special course which helps parents understand how to manage child arrangements and communicate about their children. This can be taken voluntarily, or ordered by the court.


The end of a relationship often marked by the couple ceasing to cohabitate. Can be one of the grounds for divorce.

Separation agreement

An agreement reached by a couple following separation setting out matters including where each party will live, division of the assets, and agreement as to the children matters.

Separation date

The date on which the couple decides their relationship is over.

Serving divorce papers

The formal delivery of divorce papers from the petition to the respondent.

Set-aside of a transaction

Order made under section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, reversing a financial transaction.

Set-aside of an order

A decision of the court to discard an order, as though it had never been made.

Settlor of a trust

Someone who sets up a trust, i.e. someone who chooses to place property on trust for a beneficiary.

Shared care

Sometimes called "shared residence".

Sharia law

Islamic religious law. This is applied to divorce in most Muslim countries.

Sharing principle

Where the parties have more than enough assets to meet their needs, the court will consider how those assets should be shared.

Short notice

Where a party makes an application to the court and only tells the other side shortly before the hearing takes place. This is only done in the case of emergency applications.

Social Security and Child Support Tribunal

Body which hears reconsiderations and appeals in relation to issues surrounding the Child Maintenance Service.


A type of lawyer, responsible for the day-to-day running of your case and strategic advice.

Special procedure

Counter-intuitively, this is the way most divorces now proceed. It means when a divorce petition proceeds to decree nisi without further hearings.

Specific issue order

An order in children proceedings which relates to a specific issue, for example changing a child’s surname.

Spousal maintenance

Payments made by the higher earning spouse to their ex-partner, after the breakdown of their marriage.


Forms or written documents made by the client, which set out information relating to a client’s case.

Statement of Issues

One of the documents prepared for the First Appointment, which sets out the issues that the parties disagree on.

Statement of Truth

Formal declaration that the contents of a witness statement or other court document are true.

Statute law

Law made by parliament and interpreted by the courts.

Staying contact

Also known as "overnight contact"


Legal arguments made to the court.

Supervised contact

Time spent with a child under supervision of a third party. This can be a family friend, trusted relative, or childcare professional.

Supreme Court

The highest court in the United Kingdom. The court hears cases on appeal from the Court of Appeal, and generally only hears cases which have important ramifications for the rest of the law.

Supreme Court Judge

One of the nine judges who sit in the Supreme Court, hearing the most complex and important cases in the country. The nine judges have vast levels of experience as both lawyers and judges.

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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