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Family law glossary - P

Parental responsibility  

All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has by law. Unmarried fathers do not automatically have parental responsibility but can now acquire it by being named on a child’s birth certificate.

Party / Parties  

People involved in court proceedings either as the applicant(s) or respondent(s).

Pension sharing order  

A provision for a pension to be divided between spouses upon divorce.

Personal service

Personal delivery (i.e. not by mail) of documents.


Being married to more than one person at a time.

Power of arrest 

An order attached to injunctions to allow the police to arrest a person who has broken the terms of the order.

Prenuptial agreement 

An agreement entered into by spouses before they marry which is intended to determine issues if the couple divorces. The content of the agreement can vary widely but generally includes division of assets and other financial matters. The courts are not bound by such agreements but may attach weight to them.

Prohibited steps order  

A court order which prevents a certain action being taken in respect of a child, e.g. changing their name or taking them abroad.

Property adjustment order        

A court order which adjusts the ownership of property e.g. an order transferring property from joint names into the sole name of a spouse. 

Putative father 

A person who is the alleged / presumed father of an illegitimate child.

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Mediation in family law

Family mediation is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator assists separating or separated couples work out arrangements for children and finances.   Mediation can also be helpful when arrangements already in place may...

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What is a legal services payment order?

A legal services order is an order for one party to make a payment to another party for the purpose of funding specific legal services. This is also known as a legal services payment order (LSPO). Due to public funding cuts, many people do not now qualify...

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