How many children were the subject of leave to remove applications in 2014?

baby owl Reg

We’ve just been reading Freedom of Information statistics from Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).

Now we’ll give you a bit of a clue… according to those same statistics, the number of children involved in cases where an order was made relating to leave to remove was given as 255 (in all of 2014). Also, remember that according to Government statistics, in 2010, the proportion of children born to foreign born mothers was 50% in London (and 25% nationally) so one might expect the number to be quite high!

Source of statistics: HMCTS FamilyMan System

According to HMCTS statistics, how many children were the subject of application for leave to remove in 2014?


National Family Mediation – Advertising and Credibility


Last week we wrote about the length of private family law proceedings (by type of representation) following the Ministry of Justice publishing their latest quarterly statistics. Their April to June 2015 quarterly bulletin gave the average length of time to conclude a case as being 14.7 weeks (102.9 days) in private family law proceedings. In divorce proceedings, the average length of proceedings currently stands at 23.6 weeks (165 days). On Tuesday, National Family Mediation (NFM) was tweeting that it takes 435 days to conclude a case in court. Not unsurprisingly, this had us raising a collective eyebrow.

Before moving to the numbers, we wish to make clear we’re supportive of mediation as a dispute resolution tool, of mediators and promote mediation as an option throughout our guides. Where parties are capable of being reasonable and compromise, we’d agree it’s preferable to court, but there’s the rub. It requires two reasonable parties for mediation to succeed, and when relationships break up, sometimes even the most skilled mediator will not move parents from a selfish, combative and aggressive position. For some cases, such as those involving relocation, a compromise position may not be available.

This is the second time this year that National Family Mediation’s claims and conduct on twitter (and on their web site) has caused us concern. The first was over their announcements during the Minnock case which struck us as inappropriate.



National Family Mediation’s current advert mentions the source of statistics they rely upon (the National Audit Office) but not the period to which they relate. It transpires the statistics are 8-9 years old, published in a 2007 report, which perhaps explains why they’re so far adrift of current MoJ statistics.

Their advert (pictured) implies that it takes 435 days for a court case to conclude, yet the National Audit Office reported on 435 days being from the date of application for legal funding to the submission of the final bill. While this administrative/billing timescale may be indicative of the length of proceedings in 2007, it strikes us as an assumption that the two are the same. Regardless, the figures are plainly very much out-of-date and misleading when suggesting the timescales apply today.

In respect of their web site, they go further and clearly state:

“Couples using NFM typically take just over three months to finalise their divorce or separation, while cases that go to court take four times longer”. {Their emphasis, not ours]

In respect of the 110 days to complete a case using mediation, what the 2007 National Audit Office report actually said was:

Our analysis of the Commission’s data found that, on average, mediations took 110 days (from the start of mediation to the end of the month in which the mediator sought reimbursement from the Commission). This figure will include some cases which were not resolved, or which reached only partial agreement. Despite that, over 95 per cent of mediations were complete within nine months and all mediations were complete within 12 months.

Let’s look at that again. Mediation, according to that old report, averaged 110 days to the point of seeking reimbursement (8-9 years ago), albeit there wasn’t a breakdown of whether mediation was successful.

NFM’s claims in adverts aren’t the only problem. Their articles, critical of court proceedings, talk of parents being ‘lured towards a lawyer’s promise of victory‘. Do lawyers ‘promise‘ victory? It’s a foolish one who does, and foolish to claim they do. In the same piece of editorial, NFM’s Chief Executive speaks of it being inevitable that court proceedings will lead to fraud… “In the adversarial nature of the ‘traditional’ way of managing divorce, as they’re egged on by solicitors to achieve a ‘victory’ over their ex, it can’t be a surprise that people are tempted to try to hide assets“.  The headline for that article… “Adversarial divorce process bound to lead to fraud“. Really?

Returning to that National Audit Office report, all NFM need to do, for credible advertisements, is to rely on the qualified statements expressed by the authors:

For suitable cases, mediation can provide faster, cheaper and less adversarial resolution of family disputes than involving the courts”

That would be fair, reasonable and more credible.


National Audit Office: Legal Services Commission: ‘Legal aid and mediation for people involved in family breakdown’. 2 March 2007

Ministry of Justice: Family Court Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2015



Where have all the parents gone?


The Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service announced this week that litigants-in-person “have not actually increased the court budget or the demands on the court”.  Some have suggested more unrepresented people have not lengthened proceedings as a whole.

I thought I’d have a look at the actual statistics and contemplate what that means for child welfare. Continue reading Where have all the parents gone?


Poles apart: Midlands Non-Molestation and Residence Order data


Last week we announced national statistics for non-molestation orders. Ministry of Justice (MoJ) supplied data indicates an explosion in applications in Birmingham’s County Court and Family Proceedings Court and it’s been the focus of a great deal of conversation. A reasonable question posed was “Would an increase in applications for family cases explain the increase in non-molestation orders being made?”

The simple answer is no. If anything, comparing applications for these two types of order makes the numbers look even more extraordinary.

Continue reading Poles apart: Midlands Non-Molestation and Residence Order data


The Growth in Applications for Non-Molestation Orders: Spotlight on the South of England


Last week we published data for the Midlands and North West, received from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Ministry of Justice concerning non-molestation orders and applications made under civil legal aid. We suspected that applications might have increased since the introduction of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). Such was the opinion of others we have spoken to.

The Act limited legal aid in private family law cases to ones where domestic violence was alleged. To provide a meaningful analysis, we’ve compared data between the first half of 2012 (before LASPO) and the first half of 2014 (after LASPO came into force in 2013).

Numbers for the Midlands and North West show a dramatic increase in applications in certain regions. Today we look at the South of England, and national statistics are provided below as a reminder of the national position. Continue reading The Growth in Applications for Non-Molestation Orders: Spotlight on the South of England


Non Molestation Orders – The National Picture, North West Anomaly and FPCs


In yesterday’s article we shared how the growth in non-molestation order applications in the Midlands appears quite staggering. Today we’re sharing top level statistics for the national picture and North West in particular. There’s also something very odd related to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics for Family Proceedings Courts. Continue reading Non Molestation Orders – The National Picture, North West Anomaly and FPCs