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New cases in the family courts rose by 3 per cent in 2018

Care cases took 30 weeks to first disposal

In 2018, 262,399 new cases started in family courts, up 3 per cent compared to 2017. The rise resulted primarily from an increase in divorce cases. 64,331 of these cases started between October and December, up 6 per cent on October to December 2017. The Ministry of Justice has revealed the figures for both the full year and the quarter from October to December 2018.

Over the full year, the number of public law cases started in 2018 was down by less than 1 per cent compared to 2017. There was no change in the number of cases started in October to December 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

In contrast, the number of disposals in 2018 increased by 3 per cent to 17,588 reflecting the time lag from application to first order being made. There was a 12 per cent increase in the number of disposals in October to December 2018 compared to the equivalent period in 2017.

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 30 weeks in 2018, up two weeks from 2017. Cases also took two weeks longer to reach a first disposal in October to December 2018 compared to the same period of 2017 (30 weeks, up from 28).

In 2018, 49 per cent of cases were disposed of within 26 weeks – down 8 percentage points compared to 2017. A similar proportion of cases were disposed of within 26 weeks in the latest quarter (47 per cent).

The number of private law cases started increased by 2% in 2018 compared to 2017, and the number of applications also increased by 2 per cent. For the latest quarter the increase in cases started and applications was 8 and 9 per cent respectively compared to the same quarter in 2017.

There were 118,141 divorce petitions made during 2018, up 8% on 2017 – more in line with the number of petitions seen annually prior to the low number in 2017. There were 91,961 Decree Absolutes granted in 2018, down 11 per cent compared to 2017 (reflecting the low number of petitions in 2017).

In 2018, there were 25,135 domestic violence remedy order applications, up 1 per cent on 2017, the highest figure since the peak in 2009. The number of orders made also increased, by 4 per cent over the same period. In October to December 2018, the increase in applications and orders were 6 and 5 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2017.

The general upward trend continued in the number of forced marriage protection orders and female genital mutilation protection orders, although numbers were relatively low – there were 324 FMPO orders and 143 FGMPO orders made in 2018.

The number of adoption applications and orders continued their overall downward trend. In 2018, there were 5,104 adoption order applications, down 6 per cent on 2017. The number of adoption orders issued also decreased in 2018, by 9 per cent compared to 2017, reaching the lowest annual total since 2011. In the final quarter of the year, the number of adoption orders was down 10 per cent compared to the equivalent quarter in 2017.

There were 4,557 Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) applications in 2018, up 14 per cent compared to 2017. Similarly, DoL orders were up 4 per cent over the same period. There were 1,052 DoL applications in October to December 2018, up 2 per cent on the same period of 2017, and continuing the overall upward trend. The number of DoL orders made increased by 16 per cent over the same period.

For the full statistics, click here.

29/3/19