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What is the Family Court?

If you’re going through a divorce or separation, you may have heard that you could need to go to the family court.

In this article, we’ll discuss what the family court do and when you may need to attend a family court hearing.


What is the family court?

In England and Wales, the family court deals with routine legal matters relating to marriage and children.

Both “public” and “private” cases are heard in the family court.

“Public” cases involve disputes between the state and individuals. For example, the local council could go to court to protect a child from harm.

“Private” cases are disputes between private individuals only, such as child arrangements following divorce or separation. This is the area of the family court that we will focus on in this article.

You may also hear people talk about the Family Division of the High Court. This is mainly reserved for more complex cases.

Family Court


What does the family court do?

• Financial settlements upon divorce

One of the most well-known roles of the family court is deciding how a couple’s finances are to be divided upon divorce, known as the financial settlement.

If a couple can reach an agreement between themselves about how to split their finances, or with the help of other methods such as mediation or collaborative law, there is no need to go to the family court to ask a judge to decide the financial settlement (although obtaining a court order called a ‘consent order’ is usually advisable).

If an agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to go to family court to ask a judge to settle how the finances will be split. This is normally viewed as a last resort, as it can be time-consuming and costly.


• Child arrangements

If a couple cannot agree on where a child will live and the contact arrangements with the other parent, it may be necessary to ask a family court to decide the residency and contact arrangements, known collectively as child arrangements.


• Child maintenance

More rarely, the family court can be involved in disputes involving child maintenance, normally when the parent who is being asked for the maintenance is a high earner.


Family Court Orders

The family court has the power to make a wide range of court orders, including occupation orders (to stop someone living in the family home, for example), non-molestation orders, child arrangements orders and consent orders.


Where is the family court?

The family court is not situated in just one place. The family court is, in reality, a number of different courts located throughout England and Wales.


Going to family court

It is highly recommended that you seek independent legal device if you are going through a divorce. An experienced family solicitor, such as Austin Kemp, will advise you on the process, your rights and what steps need to be taken – and ensure that the necessary preparations are put in place to go to family court, should the need arise.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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25th February 2020

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