According to the latest Ministry of Justice court statistics report, the number of new family cases issued at family courts in England and Wales fell by 19% in April to June 2014 compared with the same period last year.

The statistics also show that the majority of new cases between April to June 2014 were divorce proceedings (48% of the total). Financial remedy cases, dealing with parties’ finances following their divorce, made up just 15% and applications between parents in relation to the arrangements for their children formed 16% of the new court case load.

If a couple wish to divorce they have to apply to the court to start divorce proceedings. Usually there is no dispute between them about those proceedings, so there is no need for anyone to attend any court hearings. Instead, in due course, after the necessary steps have been taken, the court pronounces the final decree in their divorce, Decree Absolute, which ends their marriage.

By contrast, when dealing with their financial matters or the arrangements for their children they do not have to always make an application to the court. Instead, court proceedings are just one of the many options available to them to try to resolve matters.

I find that many of my clients prefer to try to resolve matters between themselves, usually through mediation or between their solicitors, rather than using the court so that they can decide what they believe will be the most suitable arrangements for their family possible in their circumstances.

I would not be surprised to see this trend towards using alternatives to court proceedings continue over the coming months and years.

If you, or someone you know, would appreciate advice about the options available on the breakdown of a relationship, please contact Gemma Nicholls on 01865 781115 or by email at