Demystifying Divorce

Fri 13th Jan 2017

If you are getting divorced or ending a civil partnership, you will come across legal jargon that can make the process even more daunting. Elise Alma, Partner in the Coodes Solicitors Family team, translates the key words and phrases used during divorce proceedings.

Updated January 2019.


Now called an ‘applicant’ although both terms are often used. This is the person applying for the divorce in the petition/matrimonial order application.


The person who receives the divorce petition/matrimonial order application or some other application to court, such as in financial proceedings.


Now known as a Matrimonial Order Application, though both terms are still used. The application form you complete to request that the court grants you a divorce.


The section of the petition that asks the court to make orders in favour of the petitioner. These may be, for example, maintenance payments or pension sharing orders. It often causes some confusion and panic as a number of financial orders are mentioned. This is simply a list of all the orders that could be made on a financial application, it is not an indication that all the orders will be actively pursued.


If a matrimonial order application for divorce is based on unreasonable behaviour or adultery, it has to set out details. This can be upsetting and, in some cases, offensive. It is nearly always best to try and agree the particulars before the matrimonial order application is sent to the court.

Acknowledgement of service

A standard form that the respondent (and any co-respondent) must sign and return to the court to confirm that they have received the petition/matrimonial order application and saying whether or not they agree to the divorce.

Decree nisi

The interim decree or order of divorce indicating that the court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Six weeks and one day after decree nisi has been made, the applicant/petitioner can apply to the court to make decree nisi absolute (decree absolute) and the marriage is then terminated.

Decree absolute

The final order of the court, which terminates the marriage.

Statement in support of divorce

This statement poses a number of questions aimed at ensuring that the contents of your petition remain true and correct and that there have been no changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to support the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. This statement has to be filed at court when you apply for Decree Nisi.

For more information or advice on divorce or any Family matters, please visit our Divorce and Separation pages or contact Elise Alma in the Family Team at Coodes Solicitors on 01566 770000 or

Fri 13th Jan 2017

Elise Alma


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