The A – Z of divorce and finances


Alternative Dispute Resolution – no one wants to go to court to have a Judge decide on the division of their assets.There are other options to court including negotiation, arbitration, collaborative and mediation

Bury St Edmunds – this is our “local” divorce centre following the centralisation of the family courts.Last year Bury dealt with over 40,000 new divorce petitions

Consent order.In most cases, the parties are able to reach an agreement on the division of the finances.A consent order is then drawn up and sent to the court for the Judges approval.It then becomes a court order which is binding and enforceable

Decree – there are 2 – the Decree Nisi which is pronounced in open court and the Decree Absolute which can be applied for 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi.Please note we do not normally advise clients to apply for the Absolute until the finances have been agreed and incorporated into a court order

– Form E is the form used to give full details of your financial circumstances, with documentary evidence attached to the same

Fee – the current court fee for filing for a divorce is £550.00 For applications for financial relief it is £255.If you are on a low income you may be able to apply for help

Guardian ad litem– is someone, often a lawyer, appointed by the court to investigate what is in the best interest of a child

Habitual residence and domicile -this is the place or country in which a person treats as their permanent home and to which they have the closest legal attachment.This must be established before issuing proceedings if there is an international element to the marriage

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.This is the ONLY ground for divorce.It is proven by one of 5 facts, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation with no consent needed, desertion, the other party’s adultery or the other parties unreasonable behavior

Judicial separation.This is an order of the court freeing the parties of their marital obligations but not dissolving the marriage.The grounds are the same for divorce and the range of powers open to the courts remain the same

Keeping your cool.It is important to keep your cool in what are often emotionally charged proceedings.Don’t vent on social media about your ex. Your children might see this and you may well end up regretting your actions.It’s difficult but try and be respectful and dignified

Law – the law relating to the division of the finances is contained in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and sets out the factors that the courts must consider when making their decisions

Marriage certificate – the original marriage certificate is filed with the divorce petition.If you were married abroad, you may need to have the certificate translated.It is not returnable and is exchanged for a Decree Absolute

Non molestation order – this is an order preventing someone from using or threatening to use violence towards you or from intimidating harassing or verbally abusing you.This can be made on an urgent, or ex parte basis without the party being given notice or on notice when the court will list this for both parties to attend

Occupation order.This is an order terminating the rights of occupation of the other party and preventing them from returning to the family home.Often the non molestation and occupation order application is made together

Petition – all divorces begin with a petition which sets out the details of the parties, the date of marriage and the grounds for the divorce

Queens Counsel.If your matter goes to court then it is likely that you will be represented by a barrister, also known as Counsel.Queens Counsel is a very senior and specialised barrister.If your case is particularly complicated, then a Queens Counsel may be instructed

Respondent.The person who is being divorced.The person who begins the divorce is known as the Petitioner

Settlement.There are various ways of reaching a settlement, by agreement, through negotiations between lawyers, mediation and arbitration to name a few.However, a settlement is reached it is imperative that it is incorporated in to a court order which becomes binding and enforceable.Without the court order the claims are still potentially open and your ex could in theory make further financial claims against you

Trial – if the finances cannot be agreed and preliminary court hearings have not been successful, the matter will proceed to a final hearing, also called a trial, where a judge will hear evidence and make a decision on the division of assets

Undertaking – this is a solemn promise given to the court to do or not do something, for example to pay the mortgage on the family home or not to harass the other party.Breach of an undertaking can mean a fine or a term of imprisonment

Void and voidable marriages.A void marriage means it has no legal effect and a voidable marriage means it is capable of being set aside.Although rare, there are occasions when a marriage has not met the legal criteria

Without Prejudice – this is a phrase used by lawyers, generally in correspondence when attempting to negotiate a settlement.A without prejudice letter cannot be shown to the Judge so allows for open negotiations and offers to be made

Xydhias – a leading case on when a financial agreement in divorce proceedings , which has not yet been approved by the court is binding on the parties

Year – you cannot petition for divorce until you have been married for a year. There are no exceptions to this

Zzzzzzzzzzz – the divorce process can be stressful so its important that you look after yourself during the process and that includes eating properly and healthily and getting sufficient sleep


When you have to make life-changing decisions that involve personal relationships, your financial security and possibly children, they need to be made with the benefit of expert, impartial advice. All of our family lawyers in Essex and London are specialists with excellent reputations and invaluable experience. We provide clear and practical advice for all situations. To book a free initial Family Law consultation please contact our Family Law Team.


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.


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