Official statistics on processes relating to family court

The following statistics are an extract of family court statistics for England and Wales published by the Ministry of Justice in relation to private law cases with respect to children.

Applications made to Family Court

The following shows the number of children involved in different types of applications made to Family Court in England and Wales from 2011 to 2016.

Parental responsibility

YearNumber
20115 496
20125 291
20134 725
20142 235
20151 632
20161 729
Total21 108
Number of children involved in orders to grant parental responsibility

Child arrangement order – contact

YearNumber
201138 403
201240 922
201343 568
201430 748
201536 102
201640 923
Total230 666
Number of children involved in orders to grant contact

Child arrangement order-residence

YearNumber
201135 791
201236 411
201335 842
201427 340
201524 280
201627 033
Total186 697
Number of children involved in orders to determine a child’s residence

Prohibitive steps order

YearNumber
201118 341
201218 951
201317 250
201414 679
201513 933
201614 956
Total98 110
Number of children involved in prohibitive steps orders e.g. to stop moving out of area or travel abroad

Orders made by Family Court

The following shows the number of children involved in Family Court orders issued in England and Wales from 2011 to 2016. There is always a difference between the number of children involved in applications and the number of orders issued in a year because it can take over a year for courts to make a decision. Sometimes it takes a few years.

Parental responsibility

YearNumber
20115 244
20124 400
20134 095
20143 742
20152 877
20162 699
Total23 057
Number of children on orders granted for parental responsibility

Child arrangement order – contact

YearNumber
2011109 152
2012109 678
2013111 626
201495 233
201576 369
201676 484
Total578 542
Number of children on orders granted for contact

Child arrangement order – residence

YearNumber
201139 320
201239 887
201340 607
201451 575
201552 533
201655 729
Total279 651
Number of children on orders granted for a child’s residence

Prohibitive steps order

YearNumber
201118 196
201219 247
201317 803
201415 840
201515 242
201615 576
Total101 904
Number of children on orders granted for prohibitive steps e.g. to stop moving out of area or travel abroad

Enforcement order

YearNumber
201145
201253
201362
201469
201570
201667
Total366
Number of children on orders granted to enforce a previous order
N.B. only approximately 1% are enforced

Recovery order (due to abduction)

YearNumber
201111
201218
201318
201423
201527
201629
Total126
Number of children on orders granted to recover the child after being abducted

Requests under Freedom of Information Act (FOI)

The following lists the FOI requests I have made or found in relation to the scale and impacts of an unjustified emotional cutoff in children in relation to family breakdown. I haven’t had a great deal of success as the organisations have yet to embrace digitisation of the application, assessment or decision making process, so to collate the data manually from paper files would exceed the cost/effort threshold defined in the FOI Act.

In addition, this type of child psychological abuse, which has been evident to parents, extended family members and Clinical Psychologists for decades, is yet to be fully understood by the judiciary in the UK or Cafcass, so they do not collect specific statistics relating to it.

It should also be noted that even if statistics were available they would not show the full extent of the problem. Many parents, particularly fathers, do not even attempt to use the courts to seek access to their children. Anecdotally reasons for this include belief that system processes are flawed where they will not be listened to and face false allegations which are not investigated properly, they cannot afford legal representation and do not have the confidence/knowledge to represent themselves. They are afraid that the system will not help them or their children.

FOI Ref: GOV/CAF20-044
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: Provide the background to decisions that form Cafcass policy on why children should not be forced to have contact with a parent who poses little if any safeguarding risk. Provide any statistics or research that shows the effectiveness of indirect contact in children being able to maintain meaningful relationships with parents and extended family members who pose little if any safeguarding risk.
Summary response: There is no Cafcass policy on why children shouldn’t be forced to have contact. Recommendations are based on the Family Court Adviser’s professional judgement of what is in the individual child’s best interests.

Cafcass has not carried out its own research into the effectiveness of indirect contact.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-037
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: Can you confirm how long it takes for an FCA to complete the training on the entire CIAF?
Summary response: The training on the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) is 6 hours long and is delivered from 10.00am – 16.00pm.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-037
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: How much time it takes to complete the section of the CIAF training relating specifically to Parental Alienation?
Summary response: The whole afternoon is given to the CIAF section titled “Child refusal/ resistance to spending time with a parent, such as alienation”. Please note Cafcass does not assess alienation in isolation; the message of the training is that alienation is one of a range of reasons why a child might resist or refuse spending time with a parent. [there are 5 modules covered in this afternoon session – I estimate 36 minutes would have been used to cover “Parental Alienation” specifically.]

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-035
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: What assessment protocol do FCA’s uses to assess for parental alienation under the CIAF?
Summary response: Woolly response was provided linking to their existing Operating Framework and Child Impact Assessment Framework and other materials, nothing specifically that described an assessment protocol.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-033
Scope of request: 01/01/19 to 31/12/19
Information requested: Can you please confirm how many cases of Parental Alienation your FCA’s assessed as being found in Family Court proceedings for arrangements orders for contact from 01/01/19 to 31/12/19 and if possible advise how many children this included.
Summary response: Cafcass does not hold or collate statistics or data on the number of cases which involve parental alienation. Information on whether a case features parental alienation would only be held within reports and documents within the case file. In order to provide statistics of this nature, each case file would need to be check individually. Cost too much to provide this information.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-032
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: How many FCA’s are employed in the Peterborough branch and of those how many have completed training on how to assess for Parental Alienation under the CIAF?
Summary response: As of 06 March 2020, there are 19 FCAs employed who are based at Peterborough. Please note this figure does not includes agency workers. The number of staff currently employed in A10 who are based at the Peterborough office who have completed the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) training is 15.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 20-16
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested: What percentage of private law FCAs have received mandatory training in the Child Impact Assessment Framework and tools.
Summary response: 61% of Private Law Family Court Advisors (FCAs) were trained on the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) during the rollout of the CIAF when it was intially introduced by Cafcass.

FOI Ref: 180903031
Scope of request: 2016
Information requested: Can you please provide me with the figures for:
– The number of private law applications made for a child arrangements order for contact from January to December 2016 in England and Wales.
– The number of children involved in those applications for child arrangement orders in private law cases from January to December 2016 in England and Wales.
If you do not have the number of how many children were involved in applications for contact can you give me the number of children for whom a child arrangement order for contact was raised from January to December 2016 in England and Wales.

Could you also provide similar statistics for private law applications for residency please for the same period i.e. the number of applications and the number of children involved in those applications.
Summary response: The information concerning the number of children involved in applications for child arrangement orders in 2016 can be accessed via the following link (to the Family Court statistics, from which you will need to open up the Family Court Tables, which you refer to in your third request.

Table 3 in these tables is the best one to use to get the number of children involved in applications for Child Arrangement Orders (CAO) with regard to contact/residence.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-court-statistics-quarterly-january-to-march-2018

I can confirm that no published table gives the number of applications. To answer question 1 in full in addition to the publication link, the number of Private Law CAO – Contact applications in 2016 is 27,299. To answer question 2 in full in addition to the published information, there were 17,552 applications for Child Arrangement Orders (CAO) – Residence in 2016

FOI Ref: FOI 084/18
Scope of request: 2016
Information requested: Can you give me the statistics from 2016 in Northern Ireland on:
– the number of applications for contact made to the family court
– the number of children that were involved in those applications for contact
– the number of applications made for residence
– the number of children that were involved in those applications for residence.
Summary response: There were 1478 applications for contact involving 2204 children and 979 applications for residence involving 1486 children in Northern Ireland in 2016.

FOI Ref: FoI/18/01570
Scope of request: 2011-2016
Information requested: Scotland statistics from 2011 to 2016 on:
– The number of applications for contact made to the family court
– The number of children that were involved in those applications for contact
– The number of applications made for residence
– The number of children that were involved in those applications for residence
Summary response: Number of applications for contact:
– 2011-12 977
– 2012-13 1286
– 2013-14 1154
– 2014-15 1283
– 2015-16 1042

Number of application for residence:
– 2011-12 711
– 2012-13 790
– 2013-14 722
– 2014-15 732
– 2015-16 716
Scotland do not hold information on the number of children involved in these cases.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for contact were started?
Summary response: Published by MOJ in Family Court Tables of Quarterly Statistics. Update: I checked – number of new applications is not broken down by application type.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for residence were started?
Summary response: Published by MOJ in Family Court Tables of Quarterly Statistics. Update: I checked – number of new applications is not broken down by application type.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the new private law cases for child arrangement order for contact in how many cases were the following allegations made by mothers against fathers:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the new private law cases for child arrangement order for residence in how many cases were the following allegations made by mothers against fathers:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the new private law cases for child arrangement order for contact in how many cases were the following allegations made by fathers against mothers:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the new private law cases for child arrangement order for residence in how many cases were the following allegations made by fathers against mothers:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the private law cases for child arrangement order for contact which concluded, in how many cases were the following allegations against mothers proved to be false:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the private law cases for child arrangement order for residence which concluded, in how many cases were the following allegations against mothers proved false:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the private law cases for child arrangement order for contact which concluded, in how many cases were the following allegations against fathers proved false:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: Of the private law cases for child arrangement order for residence which concluded, in how many cases were the following allegations against fathers proved false:
a. Sexual abuse of the child
b. Physical abuse against the child
c. Psychological/Emotional abuse of the child
d. Substance abuse by the non-resident parent in the presence of the child
e. Forced substance abuse on the child
f. Neglect
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for contact was alleged Parental Alienation claimed by a mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for residence was alleged Parental Alienation claimed by a mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for contact was alleged Parental Alienation claimed by a father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many new private law cases for child arrangement order for residence was alleged Parental Alienation claimed by a father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many concluded private law cases for child arrangement order for contact were referred to a specialist for assessment of Parental Alienation as part of the process?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many concluded private law cases for child arrangement order for residence were referred to a specialist for assessment of Parental Alienation as part of the process?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many concluded private law cases for child arrangement order for contact was the existence of Parental Alienation confirmed by a specialist?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many private law cases for child arrangement order for residence was the existence of Parental Alienation confirmed by a specialist?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many child arrangement orders were issued giving the mother sole residency of the children/child?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many child arrangement orders were issued giving the father sole residency of the children/child?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request:
England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested:
How many child arrangement orders were issued giving the parents joint residency of the children/child?
Summary response:
Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for residence were abducted by their mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for residence were abducted by their father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for residence were abducted by their father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for contact were abducted by their father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for residence were killed by their mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for contact were killed by their mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for residence were killed by their father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where children subject to a child arrangements order for contact were killed by their father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where a non-resident mother killed a resident father?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where a non-resident father killed a resident mother?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where the non-resident mother committed suicide because they did not have contact with their children?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171217002
Scope of request: England and Wales – 2011 to 2016
Information requested: How many instances were recorded where the non-resident father committed suicide because they did not have contact with their children?
Summary response: Data may be held in physical files. Even if the request was just for a single year (2016) it would take too long and cost too much to go through the files and provide this information.

FOI Ref: 171130010
Scope of request: N/A
Information requested:

How much on average does it cost to the taxpayer for the courts and Cafcass to assess and make a decision on a single application for child contact?

Is it possible to get a breakdown of cost to the taxpayer for a typical case by each step across all administration, court and Cafcass activity e.g. from Application receipt, first hearing, Cafcass safeguarding report, Cafcass court officer recommendations, second hearing, section 7 report by Cafcass, final hearing, issuance of interim and final court order etc.

Summary response: MOJ does not keep this information because there is no business need. They do not keep records for Cafcass.

FOI Ref: Gov/CAF 18-032
Scope of request: Last full financial year
Information requested:

Can you please email me how much it cost/was spent for Cafcass to provide support to family courts in England and Wales for the last full financial year for the purposes of arrangements orders for contact or residency? Can you also provide me with an overall cost to provide Cafcass services over all to support family court in England and Wales.

Is it possible to get a breakdown of cost to the taxpayer for a typical case by each step across all administration, court and Cafcass activity e.g. from Application receipt, first hearing, Cafcass safeguarding report, Cafcass court officer recommendations, second hearing, section 7 report by Cafcass, final hearing, issuance of interim and final court order etc.
Summary response: The same answer was provided for both questions leading me to conclude that Cafcass accounts, like MOJ, do not get broken down to a level where it is possible to determine how much is spent on supporting Arrangements Orders in private law cases. The response was that Cafcass is publicly funded and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. In 2016-17, Cafcass was awarded grant funding of £113.5m from Central Government, plus £0.406m for depreciation.