Absent Parent

The parent which is not living in the same household as the qualifying child as defined by the Child Support Act 1991


This is where there has been sexual intercourse with a third party during the marriage


A written statement which contains evidence given on oath or by affirmation. The evidence in the affidavit need not be expressed in any formal way but should be set out in numbered paragraphs in the first person. If the person making the affidavit wishes to refer to any document, this document should be attached ('exhibited') to the affidavit.


The person who starts legal proceedings or makes an application for separation or divorce. This person then becomes a ‘party’ to the proceedings.

Where the application is a petition for divorce, s/he is referred to as the ‘petitioner’. Once papers are sent to the other parent and their lawyer, the person receiving the papers is referred to as the ‘respondent’.

Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service)

Cafcass is an independent organisation used by the court to represent children in cases where there are concerns about the children’s safety. Cafcass carry out safeguarding checks with social services, the police and the parents involved. Their job is to tell the court what they think is best for the children based on their assessment of the case.

Child Arrangements Order

Previously referred to as access, contact, custody or residence, a Child Arrangements Order sets out the arrangements for care of a child and defines when they spend time with each parent. Occasionally, a Child Arrangements Order may apply to other significant adults in a child’s life, such as grandparents. It can also include specific guidelines about how other forms of communication (for example letters, email, telephone calls and Skype contact) will take place. In most cases, courts prefer not to define those arrangements too closely.

Child-inclusive mediation

All mediators are trained to help parents to think about the ways they can explain things to their children. They can also provide information about how children can be supported when parents separate. Some mediators are also qualified to see children and young people separately as part of a parental mediation process. This is known as Direct Consultation with Children (DCC). Both parents (and anyone else who has parental responsibility) must agree to their child being seen. Your child must also decide if they want to be involved or not. Your mediator will explain exactly how this might work and whether it is appropriate when you meet.

Collaborative practice

A way of resolving separation issues without having to go to court. Instead of trying to work out the details separately, both you and your partner, along with your lawyers, will sit together to work it out, face-to-face.

Consent Order

A legal document that confirms what you and your partner have agreed in the divorce. It can include details of how you are going to divide up your assets, such as money and property, as well as what agreement has been made about child maintenance or your children generally.

Contact centre

These may be either supported or supervised neutral places for contact with children to take place. Supported contact centres are run by volunteers who will be present at the centre and can assist where handovers are an issue or where children need to remain at the centre to see a parent or party. Supervised contact centres offer a greater degree of involvement in overseeing the contact that is taking place.

See the National Association of Child Contact Centres for more detail.