All about statistics: The last week in family law

The Office for National Statistics has published figures for
the number of marriages that took place in England and Wales in 2106. Amongst
the main points were that: there were 249,793 marriages in England and Wales,
1.7% more than in 2015, but 1.0% fewer than in 2014; that 97.2% of all
marriages were between opposite-sex couples and 2.8% were between same-sex
couples; that there were 7,019 marriages between same-sex couples in 2016, an
increase of 8.1% from 2015; that of these marriages, 55.7% were between female
couples; that marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2016 were lower at all
ages compared with 2006, except for men aged 60 years and over and women aged
50 years and over; and that for the first time ever, less than one-quarter
(24%) of all marriages in 2016 were religious ceremonies. Kanak Ghosh, of the
Vital Statistics Outputs Branch at the Office for National Statistics,
commented: “Marriage rates remain at historical lows despite a small increase
in the number of people who got married in 2016. Most couples are preferring to
do so with a civil ceremony and for the first time ever, less than a quarter of
everyone who married had a religious ceremony. Meanwhile, the age at which
people are marrying continues to hit new highs as more and more over 50s get
married.”

The Ministry of Justice has published its latest Family
Court Statistics Quarterly, for October to December 2018, including data for
the whole of 2018. Amongst the main points were: that there was a 3% increase
in new cases started in 2018 compared to 2017; that the number of Public law
cases started in 2018 was down by less than 1% compared to 2017; that the
average time for a care or supervision case to reach first disposal was 30 weeks
in 2018, up two weeks from 2017; that the number of Private law cases started
increased by 2% in 2018 compared to 2017; that in 2018, it took on average 26
weeks for Private law cases to reach a final order, i.e. case closure, up three
weeks compared to 2017; and that the number of divorce petitions issued in 2018
was up 8% on 2017. The statistics also showed that in 2018, the proportion of
disposals where neither the applicant nor respondent had legal representation
was 37%, up 24 percentage points compared to 2012, before legal aid was
abolished for most private law family matters, and up 1 percentage point from
2017. Correspondingly, the proportion of cases where both parties had legal
representation dropped by 25 percentage points, to 20% over the same period.

And finally, the Ministry of Justice has also published
statistics, together with the Legal Aid Agency, for legal aid, for the quarter October
to December 2018. These showed that in that quarter legal aid granted in family
cases amounted to £137 million, a decrease of 1% compared to the same period in
2017. Expenditure on public law cases was £117 million, up 1%, expenditure on
private law cases was £20 million, down 15%, and expenditure on mediation was
£1 million, up 3%. The number of applications for legal aid supported by
evidence of domestic violence or child abuse that were granted increased by 16%
compared to the same period of the previous year. In family mediation,
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (‘MIAMs’) increased by 4% compared
to the previous year, and currently stand at just over a third of the level
they were at before legal aid was abolished. Mediation starts increased by 6%,
although outcomes increased by 5%, and are now sitting at around half of the
level they were at before legal aid was abolished.