Family Lawyers & Mediators in Brighton
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Divorce & Separation – Basic Terminology

This is a quick guide to the most basic terms, concepts and process steps on divorce and separation…

  • Petitioner
  • Respondent
  • Decree Nisi
  • Decree Absolute
  • Conditional Order
  • Final Order
  • Separation Agreement

Divorce & Separation

The Petitioner is the partner who asks (petitions) for the divorce. The petitioner must give valid reasons for the divorce. The other partner is known as the Respondent.

A divorce will go through two stages in court: Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute. The first stage (the Decree Nisi) is granted when the court is satisfied that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce. However, this does not end the marriage. The marriage is ended by the Decree Absolute which can occur no earlier than 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi providing that there have been no objections (or that any objections have been dealt with).

For the Dissolution of a Civil Partnership the Conditional Order and Final Order have similar meanings to the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute. The Conditional Order is granted when the court is satisfied that the petitioner is entitled to dissolve the Civil Partnership. The Final Order dissolves the Civil Partnership.

A Separation Agreement is for a cohabiting couple (who are not in a marriage or civil partnership) to terminate their relationship and will generally deal with finance and children matters. Occasionally a married couple may use this if they want to separate but do not want to divorce.


Legal Aid for Mediation
From 3rd November 2014 legal aid is available to fund both the MIAM and the first session of mediation where one of the people involved qualifies for legal aid.


For further information see Legal Aid Changes for Mediation , Family Mediation in Brighton and About Family Mediation.
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