The family law practitioners were recently thanked by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andre McFarlane, for the sterling efforts all had put in to keep the court system turning to resolve family disputes.
Data from HM Courts & Tribunals Service has been released covering the lockdown period and it shows that we are not out of the woods yet. There are significant delays still in the court system and some significant variation in service times.
For divorce, if you use the old paper system, you can expect to wait 12.3 days for the petition to is process by the court. At the height of lockdown in May 2020, that was 17.4 days.
If you use the digital system, there are significant drops in service times. In March 2020, 92.8% of divorce petitions were issued within 3 days. June 2020 was still a stead 84.2% issued within 3 days and then July 2020, plummets to 12.6% In August 2020, that figure is 4.3%.
Why is that? Well, the figures for online divorce petitions show a jump – but interestingly, the decree nisi granted figures do not correlate. Maybe there are those issuing a divorce petition and not following through? Maybe those getting the papers cannot get legal advice and do not want to reply without it? Questions, questions. The figures stack up like this:
Notice the big jump from June 2020 onwards? Now this is all the online divorce petitions, not just the ones issued by solicitors. Interesting, no?
And if you are thinking things are better in any other areas, be prepared to be disappointed. Private law proceedings are now taking 32 weeks from beginning to end on average and for public law, 40 weeks on average. So, the numbers on this….
|Private law applications outstanding||Public law applications outstanding|
What do I say about this? I say please, please, consider arbitration. One of you might think that delay is a good idea. I will say this to you – it rarely is. The upset and problems that can happen whilst you are waiting for a court date are really not worth the delay. You will always be connected as parents for your children. Might as well face that as adults, dig in, get it sorted and not prolong the situation.
Why not consider arbitration? Both of you agree to the process, choose your arbitrator (judge); have one arbitrator just for you consistently – at court you get what you are given and it can be a different judge each time; decide on the process that you want to use and decide on the issues you want to have resolved. As Bachman-Turner Overdrive would sing, you’d be ‘Takin’ Care of Business’. 1970s rock not your thing? Choose whatever song you like but keep moving forward.
Contact me if you need help.