Family statistics, a record case and divorce reform: The last week in family law

The latest figures for trends in living arrangements in the
UK, for 2018, have been published by the Office for National Statistics. The
main points included that the number of cohabiting couple families continues to
grow faster than married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of
25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018; that the number of same-sex couple families
has grown by more than 50% since 2015, with more than four times as many
same-sex married couple families in 2018 compared with 2015; and that married
or civil partner couple families remain the most common type of family in which
dependent children live (63.5%), followed by 21.1% in lone parent families and
15.3% in cohabiting couple families. Sophie Sanders, from the Population
Statistics Division at the Office for National Statistics commented: “The
number of families and households in the UK has continued to rise in line with
the growth of the UK population over the past decade. However, the ways that
people live have been changing. While married couple families remain the most
common, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type as people
increasingly choose to live together before, or without, getting married. There
are also more people living alone than ever before, an increasing number of
same-sex couple families and more young adults living with their parents.”

The biggest ever divorce case in this country could be about
to take place in the High Court in London. Natalia Potanina is reportedly
seeking a £5.76 billion settlement from her former husband, Russian oligarch Vladimir
Potanin. Mr Potanin made his fortune, reputed to be in excess of £15 billion, in
metals, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, and is said to be the
second-richest man in Russia. The couple were together for 31 years, before
they separated in 2013. They were divorced in Russia, but Mrs Potanina has been
living in London since 2016. She is making a claim in this country, as she says
that she was unable to achieve a fair hearing and divorce award in Russia, as
Mr Potanin is a close friend of Vladimir Putin.

The Christian Institute, a charity that exists for “the
furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom” says
that the government’s approach to no-fault divorce is a marriage-wrecker’s
charter. It says that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill “will
further liberalise our law, which already allows far too many divorces.”
Institute Director Colin Hart has said, “We are already seeing a deeply
worrying shift in young people’s attitudes, away from Christian marriage and
lifelong commitment to your husband or wife. Forty-two percent of marriages
already end in divorce but the Government id carrying on as it wants it to be
100 per cent. Its approach to no-fault divorce is a marriage-wrecker’s
charter.” The Bill, which seeks to make the divorce process less acrimonious,
recently completed its committee stage. A date has yet to be announced for its
report stage and third reading in the Commons. It has been reported that the
new Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC will be pressing ahead with the reform.

And finally, data obtained by the BBC under a freedom of
information request suggests that the number of reported crimes involving
children attacking parents has doubled in the past three years. Comparable data
for 19 police forces in England, Wales and the Channel Islands saw annual
incidents jump from 7,224 in 2015 to 14,133 in 2018. West Midlands Police saw
APVA incidents nearly treble, from 1,084 in 2015 to 3,067 in 2018. Metropolitan
Police figures also rose but by a smaller rate, from 2,851 in 2015 to 3,233 in
2018. The National Police Chiefs Council said the rise was due to a change in
recording practices. Tom Madders, from mental health charity Young Minds, said:
“The figures are alarming but they don’t surprise us. When a young person is
behaving in this way towards their parents there is a high likelihood that
there is some sort of mental distress involved and that young person is
communicating that they do need some support and too often that support is too
hard to access. People are reaching out for support and not getting it and
often having to resort to calling the police as the only line of support.”