Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Record court delays in England & Wales for divorcing couples in 2019

Delays in the courts of England & Wales continue to mount, as shown in the latest quarterly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice on 27 June 2019.

The average time from petition to Decree Nisi was 33 weeks, and Decree Absolute was 59 weeks, – up 6 and 8 weeks respectively compared to the equivalent quarter in 2018.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly, England and Wales, January to March 2019

The number of divorce petitions issued also increased by 6% year on year. Matrimonial proceedings represented 44% of all new cases started in the Family Courts.

However, while the number of new matrimonial cases remains fairly consistent (around 30k per quarter), the number of disposals continues to fall steadily. Disposals have fallen from around 30k per quarter in 2011-13 to less than 25k per quarter now. This mean that the backlog of cases will continue to increase every quarter, and delays will mount up.

Delays in court processing times have increased substantially in 2018 and 2019. Divorcing couples are waiting 40% longer for their decree nisi to be issued, compared to 2017 figures.

Increased delays and inefficiencies have been blamed on the use of regional divorce centres. The President of the Family Division has apologised for the poor performance of family courts.

On any view the Regional Divorce Centres have not worked well, indeed, some, particularly Bury St. Edmunds, Liverpool and Bradford have provided a wholly unacceptable service. I am, sadly, confident, that each member of this substantial audience will have had personal experience of delay and inefficiency, measured in terms of months rather than weeks, over the past year or more because of the move to centralisation in these regional divorce centres. As the Head of Family Justice, I can only apologise to you, and, more importantly, through you to your clients, for this unhappy state of affairs

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division
Central Family Court
The Central Family Court, London
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