New Government statistics show that the number of new cases started in the family courts last year showed little change from the previous year.
In total, 255,330 cases were started in 2017 compared with 256,105 in 2016 including a rise of 5% in Private law case start.
Also, the average length of time to reach a final order in private law cases increased by a week from 22 in 2016 to 23 in 2017. That is over 5 months to get a result in court and not always the result people expect or want!!
The report also charts the continuing decline of legal representation in the family court. 35% of cases lacked legal representation for either applicant or respondent, compared with 13% in 2012, while only 20% of cases saw both parties represented, down from 45% in the same period.
Apart from anything else this tells me that many more separated couples and parents need to come to mediation to resolve their disputes and avoid court.
Unfortunately, despite a clear need for many more separated parents to be mediating, so many never make it. Why is that? In a separate article, I explain why, in my view, these separated parents find one reason or another, not to come to mediation, many of which are completely unjustifiable.
It is often extremely hard to persuade couples into mediation so my fear is that we will see a repeat of these kinds of statistics, year in year out unless there is a more co-ordinated and concerted effort by large interested organisations and Government, to better promote mediation and ensure that people do not bypass the need to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting before issuing court proceedings.
Time will tell.