Trending topics for family and children law in 2024

In this blog I examine the current topical issues for the year ahead in family and children law. 


Transparency remains in the spotlight for 2024. The new pilot scheme started on 29 January in the Central Family Court, Birmingham and Leeds. The scheme will run for 12 months and allows accredited journalists and bloggers to report on financial remedies on divorce and civil partnership dissolution, financial provision for children and financial relief following a divorce that has taken place overseas. Financial dispute resolution hearings will remain confidential, and reporters will not be allowed to attend these hearings. 

Where a reporter attends court, the judge must consider making a standard Transparency Order which details what the reporter can report on and any restrictions necessary to protect confidentiality and anonymity. The reporter should be provided with copies of the parties’ respective position statements and ES1. The Judge can depart from the guidance if the circumstance of the case justifies such a departure.

Children and Parental Responsibility

In January 2024, the Ministry of Justice’s proposed amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill moved to the next stage. The proposal, announced in 2022, seeks to automatically suspend parental responsibility for a parent who is convicted of the murder or the manslaughter of the other parent. There will be exemptions in cases involving domestic abuse.

This will mean that the families of the deceased will no longer have to go through the current process of applying to suspend or remove parental responsibility.

The law will be named after Jade Ward, who was murdered by her former partner in 2021. Her family have campaigned tirelessly to change the law after her murderer was able to continue to take part in decisions relating to their four children inflicting further trauma on them and Jade’s parents.

Law Commission review on financial remedies

The Law Commission will be publishing a scoping report on financial remedy orders and will consider whether the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 still works in modern times. The review aims to be completed by September 2024 and may pave the way for significant reforms in future financial remedies legislation.

Nuptial agreements

In 2014 the Law Commission reported on introducing “qualifying nuptial agreements which would be legally binding providing that certain safeguards were met”. This has not been progressed and although persuasive they are not binding. The Law Commission has announced that it’s to produce a scoping paper with a targeted deadline of September 2024 to revisit the 2014 recommendations and consider whether there is the need for further work on nuptial agreements. The pace of reform around nuptial agreements is slow so it is unlikely that there will be any significant developments in 2024.

Alternatives to court

In 2024 we will see a continuing emphasis on encouraging parties to resolve disputes outside of the court system. The current MIAM scheme will change on 29 April 2024 by removing some of the potential exemptions and MIAM providers will have to provide a greater deal of information about alternatives to going to court.


Resolution has published their “Vision for Family Justice Report” recommending steps that could be taken to improve the needs of modern family structures and has concentrated on recognising the changing face of families, helping families to find solutions, protecting the vulnerable, ensuring that the family courts meet the needs of families and making family law fit for purpose. This important piece of work will inform debates in 2024. 

Part lll Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1973

In November 2023, the case of Potanina v Potanin was heard in the Supreme Court.  The parties were married and divorced in Russia where the wife was unsuccessful in her applications for a fair share of her husband’s estimated $20 billion fortune, as most of the value was held in various trusts and so was not considered by the Russian court under Russian law.

The wife subsequently moved to England and applied to the English court for financial relief under Part lll of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1973 and was granted permission to bring claims here. The husband successfully appealed against that decision, but the Court of Appeal overturned his appeal. The husband appealed against the Court of Appeal ruling and the Supreme Court’s Judgment was given on 31 January 2024 allowing husband’s appeal. The Judgement clarified that the test to be adopted on an application to set aside permission to apply for financial relief under this Act will now be lower and will no longer need to be a “knock out blow”

Matrimonialisaton of assets

In the case of Standish v Standish the First Instant Judge made an award which gave 34% of the assets to wife and 66% to husband. The wife appealed that decision, and the Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment soon. The issues in the case are around when and if assets become “matrimonialised” and once an asset is found to be matrimonial what is the basis from departing from the usual position that it should be divided equally.


A report published in 2023 by the Law Commission has set out recommendations for the reform of surrogacy law in the UK.  Presently the intended parents must wait until they have received a parental order before they are recognised as the legal parents, and this can take several months.  The intention of the proposals in March 2023 is to enable the intended parents to become the child’s legal parents at birth. 

Family court fees to increase

The UK Government has completed a consultation which looks to increase court fees by up to 10% in 2024. This increase in court fees by 10% would generate up to £42m per year, the key objectives of the price increase are to keep pace with increased costs, improve service delivery, subsidise the cost of free services and reduce the overall cost to the tax payer. 

The suggested increases in Family Law are:

  • Application for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution fees will rise from £593 to £652.
  • Application for parental order – fees will rise from £232 to £255.
  • Application/permission to apply for adoption – fees will rise from £183 to £201.
  • Application for a financial order (other than consent order) – fees will rise from £275 to £303.

Economic uncertainty and General Election

The latest voting intention polls suggest that labour may win the next election which it’s anticipated will be held in October.  Whilst no parties have yet to release their election manifestos, the Labour Party has committed to reforming cohabitation laws. However, the exact nature of any proposed changes to the family law is yet unknown, but we can expect to see some impact. 

The rising interest rates and extreme inflation seen in 2022 and 2023 have increased pressure on family finances and have made it more difficult for some families to divorce  As these pressures ease during the latter part of 2024 this may lead to an increase in parties formalising their separations as previously, they may have been unable to fund two separate households.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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