Glossary of Terms – Family


Parental Responsibility – all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to a child and its property.

Child Arrangements Order – an Order determining who a child should live with and/or who a child should spend time with.

Specific Issue Order – an Order deciding on any particular issue concerning a child’s upbringing or care.

Prohibited Steps Order – an Order preventing a parent from exercising their parental responsibility in a particular way.

Special Guardianship Order – an Order made to someone with whom a child lives who is not a parent.  The Order confers on that person parental responsibility which supersedes the parental responsibility of any other person for that child, therefore entitling them to make unilateral decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Emergency Protection Order – an Order vesting in the Applicant parental responsibility and authorising or preventing the removal of the child from the place where he or she was accommodated prior to the Order being made.

Care Order – an Order placing a child in the care of a designated Local Authority.  The Local Authority must provide accommodation and maintenance for the child while he or she is in their care and must safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.  This Order confers parental responsibility on the Local Authority while the Order is in force.

Supervision Order – an Order which places a child under the supervision of a Local Authority and places the supervisor under a duty to advise, assist and befriend the child.  It does not confer parental responsibility.

Placement Order – an Order made after a final Care Order authorising the Local Authority to place a child for adoption if this is the plan approved by the Court.

Adoption Order –  an Order resulting in a child becoming a permanent and full member of a new family.  It gives parental responsibility to the adopters and permanently extinguishes the parental responsibility which any person had for the child before the Order was made.


Divorce Petition – a standard form filed with the Court to commence divorce proceedings.  It contains information about the parties, where they were married and details of any children.  It may detail any Financial Orders requested and asks the Court to dissolve the marriage.

Decree Nisi – a Court Order made once the Judge has given formal consideration to the divorce papers and supporting evidence and is satisfied that a divorce should be granted.

Decree Absolute – this is the final decree of divorce.  The Petitioner can apply for this 6 weeks and 1 day after Decree Nisi.  The Respondent can apply once a further 3 months have expired.  The application for Decree Absolute may be delayed if there are outstanding financial issues to resolve.

3. Financial relief on Divorce or Dissolution of Civil Partnership

Periodical Payments Order – An Order requiring payments to be made from income by one party to provide for the other. It is often called maintenance. If the payments are made between the start and the end of proceedings it is known as Maintenance Pending Suit.

Lump Sum Order – An order for the payment of a lump sum of money from one spouse to another. It can be ordered to be paid as a single payment or in instalments

Pension Sharing Order – An Order providing for a pension asset to be redistributed between the parties at the time of the divorce proceedings. The recipient of the pension share can transfer that share to become their own pension.

Property Adjustment Order –  There are a number of different property adjustment Orders which the Court can make. The Court can make an Order for sale of a property, an Order transferring ownership of a property from one party to the other, or an Order determining the shares in which the property should be held until sale in the future following a specified date or event.

4. Domestic Violence

Non-Molestation Order – an Order which restricts a person from molesting another person and/or a relevant child.  “Molesting” includes physical harm but can also include verbal threats and harassment depending on the facts of the case. Breach of a non- molestation Order is a criminal offence.

Occupation Order – an Order entitling a person to occupy a property and/or preventing another person from occupying that property or attending within a specified distance from the property.

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