Family Law Glossary

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Family Law Glossary


A child is taken across an international border without the consent of a parent with parental rights/rights of custody or the permission of the court. This can be both a criminal and civil offence.

Acknowledgement of Service

A document sent to court to confirm that you have received certain paperwork in legal proceedings. In divorce or dissolution proceedings, the acknowledgement of service has to be returned to the court within a set timescale.


The postponement of a court hearing to a later date.


Having sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex other than your husband or wife. This was one of the five ‘facts’ by which the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage could be proved for the purposes of getting a divorce, prior to 6 April 2022. With the introduction of no fault divorce, this is no longer possible.


In the context of legal proceedings, a solicitor or barrister who speaks on their client's behalf in court.


A sworn witness statement, rather than one that is simply signed. The affidavit is taken to a solicitor or member of staff at court who is authorised to administer oaths and the person making the statement swears on a holy book or affirms that the contents of the statement are true.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

A collective term for ways of resolving legal disputes other than through court proceedings. Methods of alternative dispute resolution, which is usually known by the abbreviation ADR, include mediation , collaborative law , 'round table' meetings held to reach agreement through discussion, arbitration , and negotiations conducted via solicitors.

Ancillary relief proceedings

The old-fashioned term for the financial proceedings associated with a divorce , dissolution or decree of nullity .


An application to a higher court to alter a decision made by a lower court.


In court proceedings, the term for the person who begins the proceedings by making an application. If a person makes an application within existing proceedings, they are also an 'applicant' but they are usually known by their original title within the proceedings, i.e. the applicant if they made the original application or the respondent if they did not.