A continuing rise in the number of new private law cases could signal that not enough divorcing couples are being channelled towards mediation, family law organisation Resolution has said.
According to figures from the advisory service Cafcass, the number of new private law cases has risen year-on-year for the third month in a row, ending a steady decline in the number of new cases.
In July this year there were a total of 3,554 new private law cases, up 23% from July 2014. This follows a 33% year-on-year increase in the number of cases in June, and a 31% increase in May. Before the increase the number of new cases has consistently been lower than the previous year since October 2013.
Helen Greenfield, a Law Society children committee member and family law associate at Resolution, said that the upwards trend could indicate that the government has not managed to get enough litigants to turn to mediation.
‘The monthly increase is something some Resolution members are seeing reflect in their practice,’ she said. ‘It is difficult to attribute a precise reason for the increase, but it may be due to the failure of MIAMs [mediation information & assessment meetings] to effectively channel people into mediation, something that was reported as a clear trend in a survey of members on the family court reforms we ran recently.’
She added that the cuts to legal aid mean that still fewer people are taking legal advice about their divorce options, with many are proceeding straight to court as they believe this is their only option.