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Family Law Information

Our family law online guides give accurate and accessible information about the law and your legal rights to help women access justice and safety from violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The legal information on this page is not legal advice.

Can’t find what you are looking for or need legal advice? Contact our legal advice line.

If you have a legal problem you should seek legal advice.

Please note that some legal guides list out of date opening hours for our advice lines. Please check here for up-to-date information on all of our advice lines.

Alternative dispute resolution

Alternatives to the family court: Mediation, mediation information and assessment meetings, collaborative law and family arbitration

Family breakdown can be a difficult time and there are different options for resolving family law issues such as finances, property and issues relating to your children. This is a guide to help you understand how you may be able to resolve your issues through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) without having to use the court process.

Children and the law

Children and the law: When parents separate

When parents separate there are sometimes decisions that need to be made about a child’s upbringing. This legal guide sets out general legal information about the types of orders the court can make in relation to children and answers some frequently asked questions.

Children and the law: The family court process

This guide provides an overview of the family court process and procedure for disputes between parents which need to be resolved by making an application to the court for a child arrangements order, prohibited steps order or specific issue order.

Children and the law: Domestic violence and practice direction 12J

This guide is designed to give you information about the rules the court follows in cases concerning children where there has been domestic violence (Practice Direction 12J).

Children and the law: Parental responsibility

Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined in the Children Act 1989 (CA 89) as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and the child’s property.

Children and the law: Child maintenance

Parents have a legal responsibility to provide financially for their children even if they no longer live with them. When child maintenance is paid it can make a significant difference to the lives of families. This guide sets out the various types of child maintenance arrangements available to parents.

Children and the law: A guide to cafcass and section 7 reports

This legal guide explains the role of Cafcass and section 7 reports in the family court and answers some frequently asked questions.

Children and the law: Holidays and relocation

This guide is designed to give you information about holidaying or relocating with your children when parents do not agree.

Children and the law: Child abduction

This guide is designed to give you information about the basic legal principals that apply to child abduction.

Children and the law: A guide to lesbian parenting

This legal guide gives information about your legal status as a child’s birth mother, nonbirth mother or step parent. It also looks at the legal status of your child’s biological father.

Civil partnership

A guide to entering into a civil partnership

This guide explains civil partnerships and how to enter into a civil partnership.

A guide to dissolving civil partnerships

This guide sets out the law and procedure if you wish to end your civil partnership.

A guide to financial arrangements after civil partnership breakdown

Dividing up your property when your civil partnership breaks down can be very complicated. This information sheet sets out the law in relation to dividing your finances when you separate from your civil partner and providing financial support to children of your civil partnership.

Domestic abuse

Domestic violence injunctions

This legal guide will give you information about the protective orders available to you through the criminal courts and Family Court.

Leaving an abusive relationship: What are my legal options

This guide will focus on your legal options as a survivor of domestic violence.

Domestic violence gateway evidence

Briefing on updated changes effective from 3rd September 2020.

Coercive control and the law

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to subject you to coercive control. If you experience this kind of abuse you can report it to the police. You may also be able to apply to the Family Court for protection. This legal guide is designed to give you information about the ways in which the law can protect you.

Reporting an offence to the police: A guide to criminal investigations

This guide is designed to give you information about criminal investigations and the police.

From charge to trial: A guide to criminal proceedings

This legal guide sets out information about what happens once the perpetrator has been charged with a criminal offence.

A guide to criminal injuries compensation

If you have experienced a violent crime you may be eligible to apply for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012. This legal guide is designed to give you information about criminal injuries compensation, who can apply for it and how.

Domestic violence, housing and homelessness

This guide sets out your housing rights if you are experiencing domestic violence and are currently living with your abuser. It also looks at the legal options which are available if you can no longer stay in your home and need to find somewhere else to live.

Domestic violence and immigration law: The “Domestic violence rule”

This legal guide explains the immigration law and policy relevant to women from abroad who are in the UK on a spouse or partner visa and are experiencing domestic violence.

Family court

Family court proceedings: Where can I get advice and support

This guide sets out some sources of advice and support for those who are involved in Family Court proceedings.

A guide to preparing for court hearings and safety in the family court

This guide gives information on preparing for a Family Court hearing. It also covers what to expect on the day and safety whilst in court.

How to write a position statement for family court hearing

Going to court can feel daunting, especially if you do not have a lawyer. It is usually helpful to prepare a position statement for the court and the other party to read before each court hearing. This legal guide will give you information about how to write a position statement.

A guide to fact finding hearings

Fact finding hearings can be an important way for the court to decide whether or not allegations are true. However, attending a fact finding hearing can feel quite daunting, especially if you do not have a lawyer. This legal guide will give you information about how to prepare for a fact finding hearing and what to expect.

A guide to writing warning letters

It can be difficult to know whether it is the right time to make an application to court. Writing a warning letter can be a good way of avoiding court proceedings. Sometimes it is not safe to send a warning letter, in which case you may need to go directly to court without informing the other party. This legal guide will give you information about how and when to write a warning letter.

A guide to preparing witness statements for the family courts

Preparing court documents can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a lawyer. This legal guide will give you information about how to write a witness statement.

Sending documents to the court and other parties

This guide will give you general information about court documents including how and when to send them to the other party, and what the court expects when you are managing court papers.

A guide to preparing a bundle for a family court hearing

Court bundles can be a helpful way of organising documents and referring to them during court hearings. This guide will give you information about how to prepare a bundle for a Family Court hearing.

How to appeal family court decisions

This guide will give you information about when you can appeal a family court decision and how to do it.

Acting as a Mckenzie friend in the family court (good practice briefing)

This guide will help you understand what a McKenzie Friend is and what you should expect from someone who is acting as a McKenzie Friend for you or the other side in your case.

Mckenzie friends: Support at court without a lawyer

This guide will help you understand what a McKenzie Friend is and what you should expect from someone who is acting as a McKenzie Friend for you or the other side in your case.

Special measures in the criminal and family courts

This legal guide will give you information about the practical steps the criminal and family courts can take to help you attend court and give evidence if you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence.

Cross-examination of survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the family court

This legal guide explains the law which prevents survivors of domestic abuse from being cross-examined (questioned) by the abuser, or from having to cross-examine the abuser.

Remote Hearings in the Family Court

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Family Court is still open. The court has changed the way it hears cases so that any urgent hearings can continue.

Family law legal aid

A guide to family law legal aid

This legal guide provides an overview on when you will be able to access legal aid for family law issues and, if you are a victim of domestic violence, what evidence you will need to get legal aid for issues involving children and relationship breakdown.

List of domestic violence evidence accepted by the legal aid agency

Briefing on updated changes effective from 3rd September 2020.

List of child abuse evidence accepted by the legal aid agency

This is a list of the types of evidence the Legal Aid Agency will accept as evidence of child abuse for the purposes of family law legal aid.

Guides for women in prison

Adoption for women in prison

This guide is designed to give you information about adoption from the point of view of the birth mother. It only covers the law in England and Wales.

Parental responsibility for women in prison

This guide looks at parental responsibility from the point of view of a mother in prison. It only covers the law in England and Wales.

When families cannot agree for women in prison

This guide is designed to give you information about your legal options while you are in prison if your child is living with their father or other family members. It only covers the law in England and Wales.

When social services are involved for women in prison

This guide looks at the involvement of social services with children. It is for women in prison who want to know what their rights are. It only covers the law in England and Wales.

Living together

A guide to living together and the law

If you are living with your partner or you are planning to live with your partner and you are not married or in a civil partnership, then it is really important to know your rights. This legal guide gives an overview of the law on cohabitation.

A guide to owning property jointly with your partner

This guide tells you about the ways you can own property with your partner. It also explains what severing a joint tenancy means and explains how to do this.

A guide to applying for a transfer of tenancy

This guide will explain when it is possible to apply to transfer a tenancy into your sole name.

Marriage, divorce and finances

A guide to marriage

This guide sets out the criteria that must be complied with for a marriage to be legally recognised. In this guide we will sometimes refer to your spouse, which means your husband or your wife.

A guide to divorce

Deciding that your marriage has ended can be difficult. This guide is designed to give information about the law and procedure on divorce.

A guide to financial arrangements after marriage breakdown

This legal guide sets out the law when separating your finances following divorce or judicial separation.

A guide to applying for a transfer of tenancy

This guide will explain when it is possible to apply to transfer a tenancy into your sole name.

A guide to applying to court for a financial order

This legal guide sets out the procedure when applying to the family court for a financial order on divorce.

Forced marriage and the law

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry, or if you marry at all. This guide is on forced marriage and the law.

Marriage: Your rights to your home

If you are married then you have a right to live in your home, even if your home is only in your husband or wife’s name. This is known as matrimonial home rights or home rights. This guide tells you more about matrimonial home rights and how to register your matrimonial home rights.

Legal services payment orders

This guide looks at funding legal costs for advice, mediation and representation in court when legal aid is not available.

Domestic Violence: Children

Understand, identify, intervene: Support young people in relation to peer-on-peer abuse, domestic and sexual violence

This legal guide is for anyone who wants to know about the legal options available to young people experiencing particular forms of violence, including domestic violence, sexual violence and specifically, peer-on-peer abuse.

Archive

Archive – Managing child contact and complying with court orders during the third lockdown

Archive – Coronavirus and child contact update – easing of lockdown

Archive – Coronavirus and child contact arrangements

Criminal law information

Our criminal law guides include accessible online information on: sexual and domestic violence, harassment, stalking, online abuse, forced marriage, FGM, the criminal justice process, and more.

Immigration and asylum law information

Our immigration and asylum law guides include accessible online information on: trafficking, seeking asylum, immigration, and more.

Sexual harassment at work information

Our employment law guides include accessible online information on: sexual harassment and discrimination at work, legal aid, and covid guidance.

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