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
11.11.2016Brexit: the Brussels IIa regulation - cross-border child contact cases, and child abduction
This note considers the effect of Brexit on the UK in terms of the Brussels IIa regulation concerning cross-border child contact cases, and international child abduction within the EU.
25.04.2016Humanist marriage ceremonies
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which considers the status of humanist marriage ceremonies. Current legislation provides for civil marriage and for religious marriage but not specifically for marriage in accordance with a non-religious system of belief, such as humanism. Calls have been for the law to be changed.
12.04.2016Financial provision when a relationship ends
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.
09.02.2016"Common law marriage" and cohabitation
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which provides general information about the number of cohabiting couples, how the law applies to cohabitants, and about the Law Commission's proposals for reform.
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.
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.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
12.05.2016Queen's Speech 2016 Day 3: Home, Legal, Constitutional and Devolved Affairs
The House of Lords is due to debate the Queen's Speech over four days between 19 and 25 May 2016. This briefing is one of four prepared by the House of Lords Library to cover the themes of each day of debate.
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