Family law

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on family law. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
14.01.2016Litigants in person: the rise of the self-represented litigant in civil and family cases in England and Wales
The available evidence indicates that the proportion of litigants appearing before the civil and family courts in England and Wales without legal representation (litigants in person, also sometimes called self-represented litigants) has increased since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 took many civil and private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid from 1 April 2013. What does this mean, both for the litigants and for the courts?
07.01.2016Polygamy
This note deals with the recognition of polygamous marriages; immigration issues; social security benefits and pension entitlement.
18.09.2015Confidentiality and openness in the family courts: current rules and history of their reform
This briefing paper considers transparency in the family courts, including communication of information and media attendance, and background on recent changes in this area.
04.09.2015The Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill 2015
This Briefing Paper is prepared for the Second Reading of the Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill 2015 on 11 September 2015.
30.06.2015Financial provision on the breakdown of a relationship
This note deals with the law in England and Wales and relates to the division of a couple's property and income when their marriage or civil partnership breaks down.
07.01.2015Humanist marriage ceremonies
At present, humanist marriage ceremonies do not have legal force and the parties must have an additional ceremony (for example, at a register office) for the marriage to be legally valid. The British Humanist Association has campaigned for the law to be changed to allow humanist celebrants to conduct legal marriages.
17.12.2014"Common law marriage" and cohabitation
This note provides general information about the number of cohabiting couples, how the law applies to cohabitants, and about the Law Commission's proposals for reform.
25.11.2014Pre-nuptial agreements
A pre-nuptial (or pre-marital) agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership which sets out how they wish their assets to be divided if they should divorce or have their civil partnership dissolved. Pre-nuptial agreements are not automatically enforceable in courts in England and Wales.
08.09.2014Parental responsibility
This note provides information on acquiring parental responsibility, including for unmarried fathers, civil partners and step-parents.
15.05.2014Marriage of same sex couples across the UK: What's the same and what's different?
Legislation in England and Wales (the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013) and in Scotland (the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014) introduces marriage for same sex couples. The legislation will also enable civil partners to convert their civil partnership into marriage, and transsexual people to change their legal gender without necessarily having to end their existing marriage.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
06.02.2014Immigration Bill (HL Bill 84 of 2013-14)
This Library Note provides information on the Immigration Bill, which is due for second reading in the House of Lords on 10 February 2014.
28.06.2013Children and Families Bill (HL Bill 32 of 2013-14)
This Library Note provides information on the Children and Families Bill, which is due for second reading in the House of Lords on 2 July 2013. The Bill covers several areas, including: adoption and children in care; the family justice system; children and young people with special educational needs; the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England; rights to leave and pay for parents; the right to request flexible working; and early years education and child care.
30.05.2013Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (HL Bill 29 of 2013-14)
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would extend civil marriage to include same-sex couples and allow those religious organisations who wished to do so to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. This Library Note provides background reading in advance of the Bill's second reading in the House of Lords on 3 June 2013.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
13.10.2011The operation of the family courts.
Government response. Ministry of Justice report [Commons]
28.06.2011The operation of the family courts.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
26.10.2010GRANDPARENTS RAISING GRANDCHILDREN NETWORK
That this House congratulates Grandparents Plus, the Grandparents' Association and members of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Network on their successful lobby of Parliament ...
15.12.2009CHILDREN AND FAMILY COURT ADVISORY SUPPORT SERVICE
That this House believes that the fundamental principles of the Children Act should inform the approach and practice of Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) ...
07.12.2009RELOCATION CASES
That this House believes that a child's relationship with its parents requires greater legislative protection with regard to the Family Court's current application of precedent in international ...
02.12.2009FAMILY COURTS
That this House notes that the Government has expressed a desire to increase accountability in the family courts; regrets that the Children, Schools and Families Bill as currently drafted ...
15.10.2009RELOCATION CASES
That this House believes that a child's relationship with its parents requires greater legislative protection with regard to the Family Court's current application of precedent in international ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses