Blog - Definitions


You can petition for divorce if your spouse has left you and has been gone for two years having deliberately withdrawn from the marriage and you didn’t want the marriage to end.  Desertion is rarely relied on these days, mainly because ‘two years’ separation with consent’ is more convenient.  I’ve never been involved in a separation case
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Unreasonable behaviour

You can get divorced by relying on your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.  The test is a subjective one and not an objective one, which means that when the district judge reads your petition (s)he merely has to be satisfied that you find the behaviour unreasonable.  It is not a ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ test. This does not mean
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Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but one of whom at least is married. Proof of adultery is usually in the form of a written admission. When the respondent receives the divorce petition from the court there is an ‘acknowledgment of service form’ to
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Court Welfare Officer

You may hear this expression mentioned, but the role played by a Court Welfare Officer in a Children Act case is now played by a CAFCASS officer.

Prohibited Steps Order

An order preventing a parent from doing something with regard to a child, for example continuing a particular course of medical treatment.

Specific Issue Order

If the parents of a child cannot agree on an aspect of the child’s upbringing, either parent may apply to the court for a specific issue order.  There is no official definition of what constitutes a specific issue.  Common examples are: whether or not a child should undergo a particular medical procedure; which school a
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A residence order is an order of the court saying who a child is to live with. Used to be called ‘custody’.


A child seeing the parent that they don’t live with any more. Used to be called ‘access’ until the Children Act came into force in 1991 (which is presumably why some lawyers use the dreadful expression ‘contact to’ instead of the correct ‘contact with’).

Consent order

A court order can be made by consent. The parties submit an agreed draft order. The judge considers it and, if (s)he is satisfied that (s)he has the legal power to make such an order and that the order is fair, (s)he makes the order.

Tenancy in common

A couple who own their property as tenants in common own their shares separately. The shares may be equal shares or if they choose (for example if one contributed more to the deposit than the other) unequal shares. If one of the tenants in common dies, the share that had belonged to the deceased goes in
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