Cases in family courts falling but domestic abuse applications on rise

The number of cases coming to family courts is falling but domestic abuse applications are on the rise, figures show.

In April to June, 64,813 new cases started in family courts, down 5% for the same period the year before.

This was mainly due to a 13% drop in the number of divorces, annulments and separation cases taking place, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

But the number of domestic violence cases rose by 16%, with 7,113 applications made for the so-called remedy order to help victims put a stop to abuse, up from the same quarter in 2018, according to the latest statistics.

The number of applications to help pay for legal representation in civil cases supported by evidence of domestic violence or child abuse has also increased, by 18% in April to June on the same period last year.

Around 80% of the requests were granted funding, the department said.

There have been 3,283 requests for funding in April to June which refer to domestic violence, compared to 2,721 for the same period last year.

Over the last year there were 11,840 domestic abuse-related applications compared to 4, 045 in 2013-14, when records began, the figures said.

The number of applications mentioning child abuse has fallen to 899 in the last year from 1, 497 when the figures were first recorded.

Requests for funding mentioning both domestic and child abuse has risen over the years from 63 applications in 2013-14 to 590 in 2018-19.

Figures also showed there has been the highest number applications for exceptional case legal aid funding since records began and a 21% increase in the last year.

The money, applied for through the Legal Aid Agency, can help provide legal representation for immigration and family court cases as well as during inquest hearings.

There were 888 applications received between April and June alone in comparison to 735 in the same period last year.

Of the 888 applications received, more than a quarter were denied with 104 refused and 158 rejected.

Provisional figures for 2018-19 suggest there were 3,021 requests for funding, in comparison to a confirmed number of 1,516 in 2013-14.

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