President of the Family Division

President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane

The current President of the Family Division, and Head of Family Justice, is Sir Andrew McFarlane.

As well as the President – who is a member of the Court of Appeal – the Family Division consists of 19 High Court Judges. It deals with:

  • Divorce, including disputes over children, property or money;
  • Adoption, wardship and other matters involving children; and
  • Judgments on behalf of those who are unable to make decisions for themselves, such as persistent vegetative state victims.

The Family Division also deals with undisputed matters of probate – the legal recognition of the validity of a will – in the Probate Registry of the Family Division in London, and the 11 probate registries in England and Wales.


The Heads of Division are appointed by the King on the recommendation of a selection panel convened by the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The selection panel comprises the President of the Supreme Court or his nominee as Chair, the Lord Chief Justice or his nominee, the Chairman of the JAC or their nominee and a lay member of the JAC. The Chairman of the panel has a casting vote in the event of a tie.

The panel reports to the Lord Chancellor, who can then accept the selection, reject it, or require the panel to reconsider. If practical the panel must consult the current holder of the office for which a selection is being made.

By law, candidates for the post must be qualified for appointment as a Lord or Lady Justice of Appeal or to be a judge of the Court of Appeal.

In practice, Heads of Division are generally appointed from among the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (the Law Lords) or Lord or Lady Justices of Appeal.

Court Dress

In open court, the President will wear a court coat and waistcoat (or a sleeved waistcoat) with skirt or trousers and bands, a black silk gown and a short wig. In Chambers, he or she will wear a suit.