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Family law glossary - C


A person’s ability to enter into a legal agreement.


Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

CAFCASS officer         

An independent professional who helps the court decide the arrangements for children if parents are unable to reach an agreement between themselves, usually by preparing a report after a meeting with the parents and children.

Care order       

A court order placing a child in the care of the local authority.


An action in a court of law. It can also mean the arguments put forward by the parties at a court hearing.

Case law         

Law that it based on the outcome of previous cases.

Case Management Conference (CMC)    

A meeting between all parties to a case and the judge to check the progress of the case. The number of CMCs held depends on the complexity of the case.


Cash equivalent transfer value of a pension fund.


Offices used by barristers and the judge's private office. Court hearings heard in private and which are not open to the public are known as being heard in chambers.

Child Support Agency (CSA)      

Part of the Department of Social Security. The agency is responsible for running the child maintenance system in Britain.

Child support maintenance        

The amount of maintenance a non-resident parent must pay towards the upkeep of their child(ren).

Child of the family        

A child who has been treated as a child of the family. The term can include biological children, adopted children and step children.

Civil partnership

A legally recognised union which confers many of the legal rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples. Civil partnerships are terminated in a similar process to divorce.

Clean break order

A court order which formally dismisses any future financial claims by one spouse against the other after divorce.


An unmarried couple living together as husband and wife. This includes same sex and opposite sex couples.

Common law marriage   

This term has been used socially to describe cohabiting couples. There is no legal concept of a common law marriage and the term does not confer any of the rights or obligations enjoyed by spouses and civil partners.

Consent order  

An order setting out terms that have been agreed between parties.

Contact order   

An order of the court which determines the amount of contact a child should have with a specified person. Contact can be indirect (cards / letters) or direct (face to face). 


A person named in a divorce petition who has committed adultery with the respondent. It is not necessary to name this person in the petition.


A barrister in legal proceedings.


The questioning of a witness for the other side in a case.


Is no longer used as a legal term. The correct term is ‘residence.’ A parent who is seeking an order from the court that a child lives with them is in fact seeking a ‘residence order’.

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Family reorder

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