The Ministry of Justice recently released its quarterly Family court statistics, covering July – September 2019. These showed:
An increase in the number of cases started in Family courts, 67,431 new cases started in Family courts in July to September 2019, up 1% on July to September 2018, due to a 23% rise in domestic violence case starts, as well as an increase in Private Law (5%) and Public Law (1%) cases.
On average, care proceedings took longer with fewer disposals within 26 weeks. The average time for a care or supervision case to reach first disposal was 33 weeks in July to September 2019, up three weeks from the same quarter in 2018. 42% of cases were disposed of within 26 weeks – down nearly 10 percentage points compared with the same period for 2018.
A decrease in average time of divorce proceedings. The mean average time from petition to Decree Nisi was 30 weeks, and Decree Absolute was 54 weeks - down one and two weeks respectively compared to the equivalent quarter in 2018. The median time to Decree Nisi was 23 weeks and 39 weeks to Decree Absolute, showing a similar decrease as the mean averages.
A decrease in the number of divorce petitions, while number of decree absolutes increases. There were 29,531 divorce petitions made in July to September 2019, down 3% on the equivalent quarter in 2018. 39% of these were digital petitions. There were 29,325 Decree Absolutes granted in July to September 2019, an increase of 38% from the same period last year.
An increase in the number of domestic violence remedy applications and orders made. The number of domestic violence remedy order applications increased by 23% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2018, while the number of domestic violence remedy orders made increased by 18% over the same period.
Commenting on these statistics, Helen Waite, Senior Associate at Thomson Snell & Passmore says:
“The recent statistics show an increase of 23% in applications to the family court concerning domestic violence. Applicants may be becoming more aware of the court protections available.
“It is interesting that the average time for divorce proceedings to progress has decreased. As a team we have been more aware, at least in the last 6 months, that at our court centre it is taking longer for petitions to be issued and for decree nisi to be pronounced.”