Latest articles
Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust v DV (A Child) [2021] EWHC 1037 (Fam)
(Family Division, Cohen J, 19 April 2021)Medical Treatment – 17-year-old had form of bone cancer and required surgery For comprehensive, judicially approved coverage of every important...
Domestic Abuse Bill
Aaron Gates-Lincoln, Immigration NewsAfter years of development the Domestic Abuse Bill returned to the House of Lords in the UK on the 8th March 2021 to complete its report stage, one of the final...
Coercive control and children’s welfare in Re H-N and Others
When families come to strife, arrangements must be made for the future care of any children. In some circumstances, this means an application to the courts. These ‘private law orders’ can...
Profession: Expert Witness
The value of a family business or business interest is treated as an asset and therefore part of the matrimonial pot to be distributed when it comes to negotiating a financial settlement on divorce or...
How does a jointly held property pass on death?
When meeting with clients to discuss their succession planning, many cannot recall whether their property is held jointly as joint tenants or jointly as tenants in common. The distinction is that with...
View all articles
Authors

Volume of divorce petitions fall, but take longer to process

Sep 30, 2019, 08:51 AM
divorce, statistics
New Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics about the family court are just out. The headline is that the number of divorce petitions is down on the same period last year. There were 28,144 divorce petitions issued during April to June 2019, down 13% from the same quarter in 2018.
Slug :
Meta Title : Volume of divorce petitions fall, but take longer to process
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : Yes
Prioritise In Trending Articles : Yes
Date : Sep 30, 2019, 08:30 AM
Article ID :

New Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics about the family court are just out. The headline is that the number of divorce petitions is down on the same period last year. There were 28,144 divorce petitions issued during April to June 2019, down 13% from the same quarter in 2018.

The reason for the drop in petition numbers? Some commentators are confident that legal aid cuts can be blamed for falling divorce rate. However whilst this may be a factor, there is no evidence to establish this or any other single reason. It could be linked to marriage rates being at historical lows. The truth is we just don't know.

One thing we do know is that 40%, 11,129, of the divorce petitions issued were filed digitally. This represents a good many litigants in person but we are not told how many. Online divorce was only launched in May 2018 following a small pilot so it is too early to make quarter comparisons.

The MoJ says that recently there have been changes to administration processes for divorce proceedings not only with the launch of digital applications but also the opening of the first Courts and Tribunal Service Centre in March 2009. It adds, “During this time an increase in workload has led to a backlog of cases in progress which in turn has increased the average time taken for divorce cases to reach decree nisi and decree absolute”. 

For those granted decree nisi in the quarter to June 2019, the mean average time from the date of the petition was 33 weeks, five weeks up from the same period last year. The mean time from petition to decree absolute is 58 weeks up three weeks compared to the same period in 2018.

So with this fall in divorce how are the regional divorce centres doing? I picked two which are not processing digital divorces, the South West Divorce Unit in Southampton and London & South East Divorce Unit in Bury St Edmunds (BSE). One thing to bear in mind is that Southampton does not update its figures as often as BSE hence we are comparing Southampton at 17th September with BSE on 27th. On 17th September, Southampton was processing petitions from 11th September. In contrast, on 27th September BSE was only processing petitions from 29th August. How can the figures of two divorce centres differ so much? Why is it taking BSE almost a month to issue a petition?

If BSE’s record on petitions is poor it is taking even longer to issue financial relief applications, processing Forms A only from 14 August, a six week delay. The corresponding date for Southampton is 16 September.

I approached the Courts Service for comment but await their reply. In the meantime, I have a petition and Form A to issue which I won’t be filing at BSE.

Categories :
  • News
Tags :
Authors
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Load more comments
Comment by from