Family Assistance Order

An Order made by the judge to provide the family with support through Cafcass or social services, for a fixed period of time. The order is usually made where parents are having difficulty reaching agreement over arrangements for their children. The order cannot be made without agreement from both parties.

Family Court

A court able to help resolve family issues including adoption, parental disputes, finances, divorce, local authority involvement and domestic abuse. It is usually the court nearest to where the child lives that deals with any issues.

Family Hearing Centre

A County Court with the power to deal with the administrative processes of divorce and any contested applications under the Children Act for relief

FHDRA (First Hearing Dispute Appointment)

Usually the first hearing after making an application to court concerning issues relating to children. It is designed to see if matters can be resolved at an early stage and to enable the court to make directions to move discussions and disputes forward if not.


Refers to a person who has been appointed to care for a child in situations where both parents have died. This assignment of responsibility can happen through a parent’s will or by court order.

The term may also be used to refer to a ‘Guardian Ad Litem’. In this instance the Guardian is an individual appointed by the court to represent the child within court proceedings, where there is a concern that neither the applicant nor the respondent may necessarily be promoting the child’s best interests (also referred to as a ‘rule 16.4 Guardian’).


An order issued by a court that orders a party to carry out a certain act or prevents them from doing a certain act. For example, a Restraining Order (a form of injunction) may be issued to stop one person from contacting another. During a divorce, if a party has threatened to remove marital property, or has threatened to kidnap their child, a court might prohibit the party from touching any marital property or removing the child from the country.

Legal aid

Also known as public funding. The government can help you pay legal costs, but only if you are on benefits or a very low income. For further details see

An alternative form of dispute resolution over issues arising in the wake of separation or divorce. Comprehensive mediation covers problems over both the children and finances; other mediation (or conciliation) services may deal with child related disputes alone. Mediation may be offered by lawyer mediators or family mediators alone or both together.
Non-molestation Order

Protects you or your child from being harmed or threatened by the person who’s abused you.

Occupation Order

An Order that sets out who has the right to stay, return or be excluded from a family home.