Family Court Information » I need information about family law

I need information about family law

Books by Pawel Loj on Flickr - thanks :-)

Because it is run by volunteers, this site does not provide information about the law itself (other than the very limited extracts from some particularly important pieces of law that we have reproduced below) and we cannot provide legal advice. But we can point you to some websites that we think are usually reliable sources of information about the law in this area. We aren’t able to regularly check that these sites remain up to date or reliable, but we have done our best to link only to organisations that have a good track record and resources to keep their information accurate and up to date.

In particular we recommend the Advice Now Guides and the Coram Children’s Legal Centre factsheets.

There are various books available in print or e-book format that might be useful to you, for example ‘The Family Court Without a Lawyer – A Handbook for Litigants in Person’, or DIY Divorce & Separation.

The two most important and useful snippets of law are these : s1 Children Act 1989 and s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These contain checklists for dealing with cases about children, and about financial remedy cases for divorcing spouses or civil partners – and are a good summary of the approach the Court will take when deciding about your case. We’ve set them out below.

Children Act 1989, extracts from section 1 [words in square brackets are ours]

Welfare of the child
(1)     When a court determines any question with respect to—
(a)     the upbringing of a child; or(b)     the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,
the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount [top] consideration.
[this section is called the “Welfare Checklist”:](3)     In the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4) [basically whenever a court is deciding what the arrangements for a child’s care and contact should be], a court shall have regard in particular to—
(a)     the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);(b)     his physical, emotional and educational needs;(c)     the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;(d)     his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;

(e)     any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;

(f)     how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;

(g)     the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.


Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, extracts from section 25 [words in square brackets are ours]

(2) …the court shall in particular have regard to the following matters—
(a)     the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;(b)     the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;(c)     the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;(d)     the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

(e)     any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;

(f)     the contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;

(g)     the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it; [This is “bad behaviour” but note that it is only usually applicable to really out of the ordinary bad behaviour. Lots of people are unpleasant to each other when they separate.]

(h)     in the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.


Feature pic (book) courtesy of Pawel Loj on Flickr – thanks :-)