The Family Courts deal with the acrimonious aspects of domestic strife. The judges and lawyers deal with matters that are very sensitive and emotional for those individuals involved who, if present, must try to stay calm and dignified during the proceedings. These are more informal than other court proceedings, with no jury, dock, black robes or wigs. Cases are brought to the Family Court which fall under the following laws:-
- Marriage Act 1949
- Matrimonial Causes Act 1973
- Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985
- Children Act 1989
- Family Law Act 1996
- Adoption and Children Act 2002
- Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
- Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
- Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
- Domestic Abuse Act 2021
Some cases are classed as “public”, whereby the State (in the form of local authorities, social workers, doctors, police, etc.) is against an individual, usually a parent or parents, and the child or children can be taken away, if only temporarily, to live with foster parents or a member of their extended family. A “private” case is where two individuals are in dispute with each other over, for example, property division or child custody.
As no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors, the truth of accusations is taken on the balance of probabilities.