Weekly Family Law Update August 23, 2021

Marriages Cafcass figures and domestic abuse

Statistics reveal lowest marriage rates on record

The Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) has published its latest annual statistics for marriages in England and Wales, for 2018.

The statistics showed that there were 234,795 marriages in England and Wales in 2018, a decrease of 3.3% compared with 2017, and the lowest since 2009.

Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2018 were the lowest on record, with 20.1 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men and 18.6 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women.

Meanwhile, there were 6,925 marriages between same-sex couples, with 57.2% between female couples, and a further 803 same-sex couples converted their civil partnership into a marriage.

The statistics also showed that in 2018 the average age at marriage for opposite-sex couples was 38.1 years for men and 35.8 years for women. For same-sex couples the average ages at marriage were 40.4 years and 36.9 years respectively.

Kanak Ghosh, of the Vital Statistics Outputs Branch at the ONS, commented:

“Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples were the lowest on record in 2018, while the total number of marriages fell for the third consecutive year in a row. This continues the gradual long-term decline in both numbers and rates since the early 1970s. Despite this overall decline, more people are choosing to get married at older ages, particularly those aged 65 and over.

“This is the fifth year since same-sex marriages have been possible and around one in thirty-five marriages are now among same-sex couples.”

Latest Cafcass figures show drop in children cases

The latest figures for public law (including care) applications and private law demand (mainly child arrangements applications), for July 2021, have been published by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘Cafcass’), the organisation that looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings.

In that month Cafcass received 1,481 new public law cases, featuring 2,331 children; this represents a decrease of 14.3% (248 public law cases) and a decrease of 16.3% (453 children) on the 1,729 new public law cases received and the 2,784 children on those cases in July 2020.

As to private law demand, Cafcass received 3,774 new private law cases in July 2021, which is 740 cases (16.4%) less than the same period in 2020. These cases involved 5,588 children, which is 1,305 (-18.9%) less children than July 2020.

Police awarded £11.3m for programmes to prevent domestic abuse crimes

The Home Office has awarded £11.3 million to 25 Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, to go towards domestic abuse intervention programmes.

The programmes focus on interventions encouraging behaviour change to help stop perpetrators from committing domestic abuse, with the ultimate aim of preventing further crimes from being committed.

Funding will also focus on key areas such as stalking prevention and supporting adolescent perpetrators.

The programmes use different methods to encourage behaviour change, including 1-to-1 and group therapy and community-based activity. Key objectives of the programmes include reduction in the frequency and gravity of abuse, reduction in the risk posed by the perpetrator and improved safety and protection for victims.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“To prevent the abhorrent crimes of domestic abuse from happening in the first place, we must deepen our understanding of who commits them, why they do so, and how it may escalate.

“This fund builds on the considerable work already taking place to tackle domestic abuse and aims to better understand key behaviours so we can put a stop to them for good.”

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