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Family court activity increases across most case types during January to March 2021

In January to March 2021 the number of cases started in the family courts rose by 7 per cent on the same quarter in 2020. 71,707 new cases started in family courts. This was due to increases in most case types: financial remedy (29 per cent), domestic violence (15 per cent), private law (5 per cent), matrimonial (2 per cent) and adoption (1 per cent) cases. However, there was a decrease in public law (7 per cent) case starts.

Quarterly data on the volume of cases dealt with by family courts during January to March 2021 were published by the Ministry of Justice on 24 June 2021.

The recovery from the impact of Covid-19 continues to be seen across family court activity data during the quarter, with increases in the number of new cases started across most case types as well as increases in the number of disposed cases across most areas compared to the same time last year, at the start of the pandemic in the UK. The impacts on timeliness measures continue to be felt, particularly for delays to care proceedings, with work continuing to address the impact to the family justice system.

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 43 weeks in January to March 2021, up 8 weeks from the same quarter in 2020. Twenty-two per cent of cases were disposed of within 26 weeks, down 14 percentage points compared to the same period in 2020.

Domestic violence remedy cases remain at high levels, with increases in both new cases starting and cases that reached a final disposal – up 15 and 36 per cent respectively from quarter 1 2020 (although down from the record levels seen in quarter 3 2020).

The mean average time from divorce petition to decree nisi was 27 weeks, and decree absolute was 51 weeks, down one week and two weeks respectively when compared to the equivalent quarter in 2020. The median time to decree nisi and decree absolute was 17 and 31 weeks respectively.

There were 30,420 divorce petitions filed in January to March 2021, up 2 per cent on the equivalent quarter in 2020. There were 30,171 decree absolutes granted in January to March 2021, similar to the same period last year.

The number of domestic violence remedy order applications increased by 12 per cent compared to the equivalent quarter in 2020, while the number of orders made increased by 13 per cent over the same period.

In January to March 2021 there were 1,178 adoption applications, up 6 per cent on the equivalent quarter in 2020. Similarly, the number of adoption orders issued increased by 6 per cent to 1,166.

There were 1,459 applications relating to deprivation of liberty in January to March 2021, up 81 per cent on the equivalent quarter in 2020. Orders decreased by 4 per cent in the latest quarter compared to the same period last year.

For the full statistics, click here.

25/6/21