English family law

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English family law concerns the law relating to family matters in England and Wales. Family law concerns a host of authorities, agencies and groups which participate in or influence the outcome of private disputes or social decisions involving family law. Such a view of family law may be regarded as assisting the understanding of the context in which the law works and to indicate the policy areas where improvements can be made.

The UK is made up of three jurisdictions: Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. Each has quite different systems of family law and courts. This article concerns only England and Wales. Family law encompasses divorce, adoption, wardship, child abduction and parental responsibility. It can either be public law or private law. Family law cases are heard in both county courts and family proceedings courts (magistrates' court), both of which operate under codes of Family Procedure Rules. There is also a specialist division of the High Court of Justice, the Family Division which hears family law cases.

Family relationships[edit]

Marriage and civil partnership[edit]

Divorce and dissolution[edit]

Domestic violence[edit]

Property rights[edit]

Trusts of the family home[edit]

Property on separation[edit]


Parental responsibility[edit]

Child's upbringing[edit]

Children's rights[edit]

Child protection[edit]


See also[edit]

Case law[edit]

Decisions of the Court of Appeal may be issued orally, in which case no report is usually made available to the public. Important or difficult decisions, however, are published on the internet both by the Court Service and by the British and Irish Legal Information Institute. The cases cited here provide examples.

Statutory Instruments[edit]

Statutory Instruments contain the rules that lay down court procedure. They frequently cross-reference each other, though many refer to the original 1991 rules, which came in with the Children Act 1989. The list below contains many of the Statutory Instruments that have a bearing on family law, which are available from the Office of Public Sector Information.



  • J Herring et al. (eds), Landmark Cases in Family Law (2011)

External links[edit]