Partner, Brodies LLP
The Scottish Government recently released their Civil Justice Statistics for Scotland 2015/16
. What insights do they give us into what happens when modern families break up?
What orders are people seeking from the courts?
Of the family cases initiated in 2015/16, divorce or dissolution was the primary remedy sought in 77% of cases, with parental responsibilities and rights (usually residence or contact actions) accounting for 17% of the cases and the remaining 5% of family cases being accounted for under the heading of 'other'.
'Other' will include domestic violence remedies, non-harassment orders, adoption actions and cohabitant’s rights claims. The observant reader will have noticed that 1% of family cases remain unaccounted for. This is, according to the statistics, an anomaly due to rounding!
The researchers, in compiling these statistics, looked only at the principal remedy sought in any action.
At times people will ask for residence or contact orders as part of a divorce action. As divorce will be the primary remedy sought, these applications for residence or contact will not have been picked up by the researchers who compiled the statistics.
The percentage of cases where residence and contact orders are being sought will therefore be greater than the 17% of cases where parental responsibilities and rights are the primary orders sought.
There were a total of 12,892 family cases raised in Scotland in 2015/16. 137 of these were raised in the Court of Session. The other 12,755 cases were raised in the Sheriff Court. Of the 12,892 family cases, 9,943 of them were divorces and dissolutions.
The most up-to-date figure for the number of married couples in Scotland is 967,000 (2011 census). This means that in 2015/16, just over 1% of the married couples in Scotland had initiated an action of divorce.