Jargon Buster

Whatever route you choose to take to address your co-parenting issues you may come across ‘legal jargon’ which can appear unfamiliar and confusing. Set out below are some of the key definitions to help you along your way.


The person applying to the court for an order and issuing an application.


The person who receives an application or an order.


An alternative process to court whereby parties choose to instruct an Arbitrator to decide upon issues in dispute. This person will act as a ‘judge’ but the process will not involve formal court proceedings.


Barristers are lawyers who spend their time in court representing parties within proceedings. They can also be referred to as counsel.


This is the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Cafcass officers are appointed in cases relating to children where there is a dispute over arrangements. They may be asked to prepare a report for the court setting out recommendations as to what would be in the child’s best interests.

Child maintenance

A payment of money from the parent not living with their child to the other parent for the benefit of the child.

Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

The CMS replaced the Child Support Agency in 2013. It is used by parents to put child maintenance in place where this cannot be agreed with the co-parent.

Child Arrangements Order

An order setting out where a child is to live and how much time they spend with each parent. This type of order replaces contact and residence orders.

Collaborative law

An alternative way of dealing with disputes over arrangements for children whereby each party instructs a collaboratively trained lawyer and all parties, and their lawyers meet for a series of round table discussions in order to try and resolve issues.

Ex parte

Now referred to as ‘without notice’ when emergency hearings have been applied for and only the applicant has attended at court. Another hearing is usually held shortly after to enable the judge to hear from the other party.


First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment. This is the first court appointment when an application has been made in respect of children.


Dispute Resolution Appointment. This is the second hearing within proceedings relating to children. The aim of the hearing is to try and reach a resolution to any issues before the court by way of court assisted negotiation.

Fact-finding hearing

A hearing within proceedings to deal with allegations made by one party against another, which if found to be true, would have an impact on the welfare of the child.

Final Hearing

This is the final court appearance within proceedings. After hearing both parties give evidence a judge will make a decision which will lead to a binding order being made.

Leave to remove

An application to the court requesting permission to remove a child permanently from England and Wales.

Litigant in person

A person who is acting without assistance from a solicitor/legal professional and chooses to represent themselves.


A process whereby parties try to reach agreement with the assistance of an independent mediator.

Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

Before issuing court proceedings you will be required to attend a meeting with a mediator to ensure you have considered the process and to explore whether mediation may be suitable for your case.

Parental Responsibility

This is your legal rights and responsibilities as a parent in respect of your child. This will include important everyday decisions relating to your child’s welfare and upbringing.

Prohibited Steps Order

This is an order made to prohibit something in respect of a child. For example, removing them from the country or changing their surname.

Specific Issue Order

This is an order dealing with a specific issue in relation to a child where there is a dispute between parents for example, in relation to schooling or medical treatment.

Section 8 Order

An order made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989. These include child arrangements orders, prohibited steps order and specific issue orders.


A promise made to the court or to another party. If an undertaking is given to the court and broken it can be seen as contempt of court and an application can be made for the person who has broken the undertaking to be committed to prison.