The divorce glossary

Originally published on 9th September 2019 at 4:27 PM
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Legal jargon can be confusing and when it comes to divorce / separation – there are so many acronyms and form names to get your head around. That’s why we’ve decided to put together a legal jargon free glossary for divorce and separation terms. If we’ve missed any – please comment at the bottom of the page and we’ll get it added.


AOS (Acknowledge of Service)

This is a legal form that will be sent to the ‘Respondent’ after divorce / dissolution proceedings have started. It’s a short form that will ask a series of questions, including if the person receiving the form agrees to the divorce / dissolution or not.


Arbitration is a legal process, appropriate for couples who cannot agree on their financial settlement. It’s the step before court proceedings and involves an arbitrator reviewing your proposals and making a legally binding decision for you.


Consent order

A consent order is the legal document that will make your financial split legally binding. It is also the document that ends future claims against you by your ex and vice versa as it contains a clean break clause. You can submit consent orders to the court after your ‘Decree Nisi pronouncement date’.

Clean break consent order

A clean break consent order is a type of consent order that ends the possibility of claims in the future. You will both still need to disclose what you have in assets and debts, but you won’t be able to protect any transfers / arrangements between you. If you want to make any arrangements between you, you’ll need to get a full consent order.

CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value)

If you’re going to get a consent order, you’ll need your CETV value from your pension provider/s. This states the value of your pension for the purpose of transfer. It is different to the fund value of your pension.

Court fees

The courts in England and Wales ask for a court fee for submitting for a divorce / dissolution. The current fee is £593 (includes VAT). You can use amicable’s court fee calculator to find out if you’re entitled to a discount on the court fee.

You’ll also need to a pay a £53 court fee to the government for submitting a consent order with the court. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for a discount exemption on this fee.



The name of the form given to the divorce petition, the first legal form / step for starting divorce / dissolution proceedings. Includes things like; names and address, details for the marriage and reason for divorce.

D81 (Statement of information)

A document that accompanies your consent order and sets out your financial position immediately prior to the separation of financial assets. The D81 lays out the assets, debts, pensions and income and how they are currently divided. You need to include information about each asset even if you are not sharing them.

Decree Absolute

The final legal stage of a divorce / dissolution. The Decree Absolute certificate is the document that signifies the divorce / dissolution is official.

Decree Nisi

Decree Nisi is when the judge will either accept or agree that you have good reason to divorce / dissolve your civil partnership.


The legal process for ending a marriage. This can be a same-sex marriage or a heterosexual marriage. You can divorce once you have been married for 12 months or more. When you divorce you will need to: submit a divorce petition D8 (see above), your partner will need to complete an Acknowledgement of Service (see above), you will need to apply for a Decree Nisi and apply for a Decree Absolute (see above)


The legal process of ending your civil partnership.


Financial order (Financial Remedy Order)

The legal document that ends your financial relationship and the possibility of future claims against each other. Also called a consent order.


Ground for divorce

There is a single ground for divorce under English and Welsh law – ‘the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage or civil partnership’. People commonly refer to the ‘5 Facts to support the breakdown of the marriage’ as the grounds, however. There are currently five reasons or facts you can rely on to prove the marriage is over:

and four reasons you can use to end your civil partnership (all of the above except for adultery). You can find out more about these reasons here.


Mesher order

Part of a consent order (the legal document that formalises and legalises how you’ll split your finances). A Mesher order outlines what will happen with the family home. For example, ‘the family home will be sold when both children have turned 18 (21/09/2025) and the equity will be split 50% / 50%.’.


No-fault divorce

In England and Wales, you must choose from a list of reasons to support the fact your marriage has irretrievably broken down. The majority of these reasons require one person blaming the other for the breakdown of the marriage / civil partnership. No-fault divorce removes the need for blame and allows couples to separate without placing blame. The government has confirmed that England and Wales will (at some point) replace the current law with no fault divorce.



When submitting for a divorce or dissolution in England or Wales, one person must officially start the process by completing the divorce / dissolution petition or ‘D8’. This person is called the ‘Petitioner’ on call the legal paperwork.



This is the person who is responding the divorce / dissolution petition (D8).


Two years separation

One of the legal reasons you can use to divorce / dissolve your civil partnership in England and Wales. You can read more about two years separation in this blog.


Separation agreement

A separation agreement documents how you will split / manage your finances. A separation agreement is different to a consent order / financial order because it’s not enforceable through the courts. It’s usually used if a couple is not married, does not want to divorce or aren’t quite ready but want to figure out how the financial separation would work. A separation agreement can be used to set out how the finances will work whilst you get divorced.


Unreasonable behaviour

One of the reasons you can use to divorce / separate in England and Wales. It involves one person writing four to five examples of the other person’s behaviour and why that behaviour has led to the break down of the marriage. You can read more about unreasonable behaviour here and get tips of remaining amicable if you’re using this as the reason for divorce here.

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.

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