Basic Divorce Jargon Explained

By: Clairmont Oakeson


As with all specialist legal procedures, divorce is one that features a heavy usage of technical jargon. To the layman, inundated with this technical jargon, it can all seem very overwhelming. From alimony to relevant child - it's understandable that you're not going to possess the most in-depth knowledge of, or even regularly use, these terms, unless of course you're a specialist divorce lawyer.

In order to provide you with a better of idea of the legal terms that might crop up in the typical divorce procedure, we've created a short guide.

It details just a short selection of the most basic terms:

Alimony: One we mentioned earlier, this term is one more commonly used in America; its British equivalent is maintenance. Maintenance, or alimony, is a regular cash payment paid by one spouse to another under a court order. It can also be arranged following an agreement between the two parties too.

On the rare occasion where it may be seen that the payments of the paying spouse are likely to be at risk, for a number of reasons, alimony can be secured on their assets. For example, in order to fund the payment of alimony, following a divorce, a paying party's assets might be sold off. However, as mentioned, it is very rare that such an occasion arises.

Mediation: Mediation is a term that is commonly used in particularly complicated and bitter divorce procedures. It's a process in which a set of independent middle men or women - mediators - will attempt to aid a couple reach a satisfactory resolution or arrangement regarding a certain issue - usually regarding any children the spouses may have together or finances.

Pre-nuptial agreement: Usually agreed prior to the wedding ceremony taking place, a pre-nuptial agreement - if one has actually been agreed - will play a significant role during a divorce. It's an agreement that sets out the clear terms to be applied if the couple decides to separate or divorce.

Although you'll commonly hear about prosperous businesspeople or famous celebrities getting pre-nuptial agreements, many average members of the public also opt to draw them up.

Parent with care: Parent with care is a term primarily used by the Child Support Agency - a delivery arm of the Department for Work and Pensions responsible for providing child maintenance - to describe the parent that the child lives, or children live with.

Former matrimonial home: It's a pretty obvious term this one; it refers to the property, in which the couple getting a divorce formerly occupied together before they opted to separate.

Decree nisi: A decree nisi is an order that indicates that a court recognises the reasons for a divorce being applied for and the reasons why a marriage has broken down. Following a decree nisi being issued, the couple has to wait six weeks and a day before they can apply to make the order absolute - with a decree absolute - which will ultimately signal the termination of the marriage.

Court fees: It costs money to apply for a divorce. There are a number of basic administrative costs - usually of a fixed price - that the applicant of divorce will need to pay.

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There are many specific legal terms used in divorce proceedings. This article defines just seven of the most basic of these terms.

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