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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It seems fitting therefore that the Government have recently announced an intention to introduce “Jade’s Law”.

Who was Jade Ward?

Jade Ward was a 27-year-old woman living in Shotton, Flintshire. In August 2021, she was brutally murdered by her estranged Husband, Russell Marsh, with whom she had four children. Throughout their relationship, Russell Marsh exerted extreme control and isolated Jade from her friends and family and this horrific attack came only shortly after their separation.

Jade’s husband was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to serve at least 25 years behind bars for Jade’s murder, however, he still retained parental responsibility for all four children. He has therefore continued to exert control and inflict further trauma on their children and Jade’s family by exercising his parental responsibility from prison.

What is Parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is the right to be included in important decisions about your children’s lives. This includes, for example, choice of school, religion/cultural upbringing and medical treatment. A mother automatically has parental responsibility on a child’s birth. A father acquires it from birth if he is married to the mother or as soon as he is named on the birth certificate in the case of unmarried parents.

Retaining parental responsibility enabled Mr Marsh to continue to involve himself in decision making relating to the children. For this reason, Jade’s family campaigned tirelessly to change the law so children can be better protected going forward.

How will Jade’s Law change the UK’s family justice system?

Previously, for parental responsibility to be removed, an application to the Court was required and then considered on a case-by-case basis. This is not only time consuming but costly. It also adds to the stress and emotional trauma a victim’s family will be going through.

Jade’s Law, if introduced, would mean that upon a person being sentenced for murder or manslaughter of the other parent, they would have their parental responsibility suspended. The matter would then be swiftly considered by a Judge, with the paramount concern being the welfare and best interests of the children.

Under “Jade’s Law”, the onus would fall on the convicted party to go through the legal process to prove they deserve to retain parental responsibility, rather than force the victim’s family to endure a protracted and traumatic legal process to prove why parental responsibility should be revoked.

Will Jade’s Law come into effect in the UK?

A petition was originally issued by a family friend in April 2022 calling for the automatic suspension of parental responsibility rights of any parent that had been found guilty of murdering the other parent. That petition received over 130,000 signatures.

After a significant period of debate and the Government maintaining that it would be too difficult to implement Jade’s Law, Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk KC announced at the recent Conservative Party Conference, the intention to amend the Victims and Prisoners Bill to introduce what has become known as “Jade’s law” and his plans to put this forward to Parliament before the end of 2023. It is therefore still some way off being made actual law, but it is certainly going in the right direction.

Child Law Advice from DTM Legal

It would be hoped that occasion for this law to be required would be few and far between but questions about parental responsibility, what this means and what happens when parents disagree are far more frequent.  If you would like advice regarding parental responsibility or any other arrangements for children, then please contact our family law team who will be able to discuss your circumstances in more detail and the options available to you. To contact Helen Davies and the Family Law team call on 01244 568635/0151 3210000 or email

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