International Family Law UK

What do I call the family law judge in the UK?

Our clients often ask how they should address the judge in their family law case. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer and the precise wording depends on the type of judge you will be facing. The different forms of formal address appear to many quite archaic in the modern world.

Standard family cases in England & Wales are heard in the County Court or a Magistrates Court, and will either be heard by a District Judge, Circuit Judge or Magistrates. Your case will be allocated by the court to a particular level of judge when your application is issued.

We can advise you in each case which court you are likely to appear in and in front of what kind of judge, depending on your individual circumstances.

District judges are full-time judges who deal with the majority of cases in the county courts of England and Wales and so are heavily involved in family proceedings. Sometimes you will be heard by a Deputy District Judge, who sits for a number of days each year and works on a part time basis

Circuit judges are appointed to one of seven regions of England and Wales, and sit in the County Court within their particular region.

Magistrates will mostly deal with criminal work but they also decide many civil matters, particularly in relation to cases about children.

The High Court, Family Division, hears appeals from the Family Court as well as some more complex family law issues in the first instance, such as child abduction.

Appeals from the High Court are heard in the Court of Appeal, and  ultimately in the Supreme Court.

District Judges

Address (in correspondence) Dear… In court
District Judge Judge Sir or Madam

Circuit judges

Address (in correspondence) Dear… In court
His Honour Judge Judge Your Honour
Her Honour Judge Judge Your Honour

Magistrates

Dear… In court
[name], Esq JP Your Worship, or
Sir or Madam

High Court Masters & Registrars

Office/Position Address (in correspondence) Dear… In court
Master Master (whether male or female) Master Master
Registrar Mr (or Mrs) Registrar Registrar Registrar

High Court Judges

Office/Position Address (in correspondence) Dear… In court
High Court judge The Honourable Mr Justice Judge My Lord
High Court judge The Honourable Mrs/Ms Justice (whether married or single) Judge My Lady

Court of Appeal Judge

Judges who sit in the Court of Appeal (Lords Justices of Appeal) are Privy Councillors. They are known officially as Lord Justices. They should be addressed as follows:

Address (in Correspondence) Dear… In court
The Right Honourable Lord Justice Lord Justice My Lord
The Right Honourable Lady Justice Lady Justice My Lady

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