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Jade's Law: What is it and How Does it Affect Me?

View profile for Adarsh Patel
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By the end of 2023, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk plans to introduce a new law before Parliament which would result in parents who kill their partner or ex-partner with whom they have children to automatically have their parental responsibility suspended upon sentencing. This law will commonly be referred to as “Jade’s Law”.


In 2021, Jade Ward was strangled to death by her partner, Russell Marsh, whilst their children were asleep. Even though he has been sentenced to serve at least 25 years in prison for her murder, Mr Marsh retained his parental responsibility for his children and was able to request school / medical reports, and gain updates as to their welfare.[1] By retaining his parental responsibility, he could even stop them from travelling abroad by withholding his consent. The couple’s children are now living with their maternal grandparents, who have been campaigning to bring an end to Mr Marsh’s ability to retain his parental responsibility.[2]

Proposed Legal Process

Earlier this week, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk outlined the proposed law for the convicted parents to automatically have their parental responsibility suspended upon sentencing. This law will commonly be referred to as “Jade’s Law” and would apply to any parent convicted of the murder or voluntary manslaughter (by way of provocation or diminished responsibility) of a person with whom they share parental responsibility.[3] This would then be reviewed by a Judge to ensure that the removal of the person’s parental responsibility is in the best interests of the child. It is proposed that there will be an automatic exemption to this law where a domestic abuse victim kills their abuser.[4] However, there is likely to be ongoing discussions and case law which considers the nature and extent of the abuse.

This is a significant amendment to the current law whereby a separate application will need to be made to the Court to remove a parent’s responsibility if that parent tries to manipulate their children from prison. The ability to suspend and remove a parent’s parental responsibility at the point of sentencing in the criminal Courts may limit future litigation and that parent’s involvement in decision making regarding the child(ren)’s future placement. However, it is unknown at this stage if the Local Authority would still initiate Care Proceedings in the Family Court given that no parent would be exercising parental responsibility for that child(ren).

Where a parent has been murdered by the other parent, it is likely that it will result in Local Authority involvement due to concerns about the safety and welfare of the children and where they will reside. Usually, a parent with parental responsibility will be made an automatic party to any Care Proceedings initiated by the Local Authority. There is a statutory duty for the Local Authority to do the following:

  • Keep parents updated in respect of the child’s welfare,
  • Consult with parents regarding the child’s placements and any intended placement moves.
  • To offer contact to any important people in the child’s life, if safe to do so and to keep this under review.

Without holding parental responsibility, a parent will not be made party to the Court proceedings automatically, meaning that the Court can make decisions without consideration as to that parent’s position. However, a parent who does not hold parental responsibility may be able to apply to join those proceedings, but it is unclear if that application would be successful if their parental responsibility has been revoked.

The most common way in which a person’s parental responsibility is discharged is by way of an Adoption Order being made or an Order whereby parental responsibility is revoked in the Family Court. It is not clear at this stage how the decision to revoke parental responsibility at the point of sentencing would work in practice.

How can Johnson Astills help?

If the Local Authority have issued care proceedings in relation to your child(ren), then we may be able to assist you during those proceedings or any step prior to this. Please contact  Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.