Time taken to clear Family Court cases drops significantly

The average time a case takes to travel through the courts has fallen to 26.9 weeks, compared to 55 weeks in 2011, new figures show.

The research, published by the Ministry of Justice this week, highlights the latest trends in the Family Courts of England and Wales in 2016.

It found that more than 256,000 cases started in the Family Courts during this period, an increase over the previous two years, driven mainly by increases in public law, private law, and financial remedy cases.

It says the number of public law cases increased by 18 per cent – from 16,000 in 2015 to nearly 19,000 in 2016.

Likewise, the number of private law cases increased by 11 per cent, 43,347 cases in 2015 compared to 48,244 cases in 2016.

Despite an increase in the number of cases, the time taken to dispose of a care or supervision application has dropped significantly.

The average time has fallen from 55 weeks in 2011, to 30 weeks in 2014, 28.3 weeks in 2015, and finally, 26.9 weeks in 2016.

The report also found that the number of applications for domestic violence remedy orders has remained stable over recent years, hovering around 19,000 non-molestation and 4,700 occupation applications per annum.

Family Courts deal with cases such as parental disputes (Private Law), local authority intervention to protect children (Public Law), matrimonial cases such as divorce petitions, the financial provisions for children after divorce or relationship breakdown, domestic violence remedies, and adoption.

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010.