Well-known as being one of the most stressful experiences that someone can experience, divorce or legally-separating from your former spouse can be a harrowing process.

Like many other legal procedures in the UK, divorce entails a step-by-step procedure, with each step involving a fair amount of paperwork and double-checking from legal professionals. If you and your former spouse have hired solicitors to assist you in the process, you may find yourself confused about certain terms which they use.

Of course, the reason you hired a legal representative was so you wouldn’t have to complete the excessive paperwork that accompanies a divorce but many people find it helpful to know more about the words and the overall process. That way, should you need to divorce in the future (we hope you don’t!), you will know exactly what to expect.

At Andrew and Andrew, we know that divorce is a stressful time, and our family solicitors in Portsmouth will make sure that your well-being and the well-being of your children is the top priority. We will aim to remove as much of the stress as possible from the process, such as paperwork, forms and liaising, allowing you to focus on keeping your mental health on track and staying composed.

What are some of the terms that you may overhear our family solicitors in Portsmouth during your divorce process? Read on to learn more about terminologies used during divorce in the UK.


More common if you and your former spouse have children, alimony is also referred to as maintenance. It is a monthly payment that must legally be paid after the divorce process has ended.


In the UK, a divorce can only begin once you and your spouse have been married for a minimum of 12 months, but an annulment can take place regardless of the timespan of the marriage.

Conciliation (a.k.a mediation)

A practice that is undertaken by our family solicitors in Portsmouth, which involves you and your former spouse discussing your issues with a neutral party. This may revolve around children, finances or the divorce proceedings and is preferable to taking your divorce through the court.

Decree absolute

The legal order that ends your marriage, allowing you and your partner to remarry.

Decree nisi

The legal order which states the date of when your marriage will end unless either you or your partner provide a reason as to why you wish to challenge the divorce.


The petitioner is the person who begins the divorce proceedings and sends a petition to their former spouse. Legally, their spouse has the right to contest the separation, but after 5 years of living apart in the UK, they no longer have this privilege and must legally oblige.

Property orders

If you and your former spouse owned property together, a property order allows the courts to deal with the ownership issues that accompany a divorce. This may result in full ownership of the said property being granted to one spouse.