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Glossary

Petitioner
The person applying for the divorce.

Respondent
The person who is being divorced.

Petition
The document completed by the Petitioner to start the divorce process. The Petition (in brief) will include the date and place of marriage, yours and your spouse's address and occupation together with details of the children (if applicable). The Petition will also set out the ground for divorce and any potential claim for costs and financial relief.

Irretrievable Breakdown
This is the one and only ground for divorce and means that the marriage is beyond repair. To obtain a Divorce the irretrievable breakdown has to be proved on one of five grounds namely: Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, and Separation for at least two years together with your spouse consenting to the divorce, Desertion for at least two years or Five years Separation.

Acknowledgment of Service
The Respondent completes this form. It is a straightforward 'question and answer' form that asks the Respondent firstly to confirm when and where the Petition (and if applicable the Statement of Arrangements for Children form) was received, and secondly whether or not the Respondent will allow the divorce to proceed undefended. If applicable the Respondent will also confirm whether or not he or she agrees to pay the costs of the proceedings (i.e. of the divorce itself and not any ancillary costs).

Affidavit in Support of Petition
The Petitioner completes this document. It is a question and answer form simply confirming that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. The document has to be sworn or affirmed by either a Solicitor or a Commissioner for Oaths.

Certificate of Entitlement to Decree Nisi
The document that confirms whether or not you are entitled to a divorce, together with a date for the Decree Nisi.

Ancillary Relief
This is a broad term that basically means the division of the assets on divorce. In the event an agreement cannot be reached then it is possible for either the Petitioner or the Respondent to apply to the Court for an order for Ancillary Relief'. The Court can make a whole range of orders for you, your spouse or the children. The orders are set out below. Generally, the application for Ancillary Relief will be made in the Divorce Petition and will only be activated in the event an agreement cannot be reached.

Lump Sum Orders
This is the order of a payment of a specified figure or percentage of assets. It can be paid by instalments or as a whole. It can also be secured as with Secured Periodical Payments. Lump Sum Orders can also be deferred to a date specified in the future.

Property Adjustment
The Court can order that one spouse transfer to the other spouse property, which includes land, furniture, vehicles, and policies amongst others.

Settlement of Property
The Court can make an order that property is 'settled'. For example the matrimonial home can be held on 'trust for sale', the house not being sold until for example the youngest child of the family completes full time education. The Court can also order a spouse to set up a Trust Fund for the benefit of a spouse or child.

Maintenance Pending Suit
This is a form of maintenance for a spouse. Application is usually made where one spouse cannot manage financially as a result of the breakdown of their relationship. The order will only last until Decree Nisi whereupon in can be converted to an order for Periodical Payments.

Periodical Payment
This is maintenance for either you or your spouse. It is usually paid at monthly intervals.

Secured Periodical Payments
It is possible to ask the Court to make an order that a Periodical Payments order is secured on other assets for example dividends from shares or property.

Pensions
The Court can make orders in relation to pensions.

Pension Sharing (also referred to as Pension Splitting)
Each pension has what is called a 'Fund Value', which is often referred to as a 'Cash Equivalent Transfer Value'. This fund is used in the future to pay your pension. The effect of a pension sharing Order is to divide your pension Fund. This in real terms means that it can be ordered by the Court that a percentage of your pension is transferred to your spouse or vice versa. The fund managers or trustees of your scheme have to approve such transfer and the terms of it. The effect is that the percentage is transferred to a pension scheme set up by your spouse thereby giving your spouse pension rights that are independent from yours.

Pension Attachment (also referred to as 'Earmarking')
It can be ordered by the Court that the managers or trustees of your pension scheme pay to your spouse part of your monthly income and/or your lump sum that you receive upon retirement. The pension would remain yours and the pension provider would automatically make the payments.

Offsetting
When the assets of the marriage are looked at as a whole it may be appropriate to 'offset' a pension against other assets of the marriage. For example, in return for not receiving a share of the pension either on a 'Sharing' or 'Attaching' basis it is possible to receive a larger share of the realisable assets.

Clean Break
This is an order of the Court that dismisses any of the above applications that can be made (i.e., periodical payments, lump sum, property adjustment and pensions). The effect of this is that either Petitioner or Respondent can apply to the Court in the future for any of the above orders. Here is usually also provision that would state that neither party can make any claims against the others estate following death.

Court Order
This is as the name suggests. It is an important document telling you to do or carry out a specific act.

Consent Order
This is a Court Order but one entered into by the agreement of you and your spouse when dealing with the financial matters.