Family court

Family law is the area of law that deals with:

  • Public law – local authority intervention to protect children;
  • Private law – parental disputes concerning the upbringing of children;
  • Matrimonial cases – divorces, annulments and separations;
  • Financial remedy (formerly known as 'ancillary relief') – financial provisions after divorce or relationship breakdown;
  • Domestic violence remedy orders;
  • Forced marriage protection orders;
  • Female genital mutilation protection orders;
  • Adoption;
  • The Mental Capacity Act; and
  • Probate

See family court statistics at MOJ for further information.

These measures show the annual total number of cases starting in family courts in England and Wales.


Family court - total cases started

Total cases started at family court.

Family court - total cases started
Year Family court - total cases started
2020 266,038
2019 266,487
2018 262,750
2017 255,294
2016 256,020
2015 245,057
2014 241,469
2013 265,553
2012 265,912
2011 263,618

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 266,038


Children Act - public law

Public law – local authority intervention to protect children (annual total number of cases starting).

Children Act - public law
Year Children Act - public law
2020 18,052
2019 18,392
2018 19,035
2017 19,152
2016 18,953
2015 15,998
2014 14,909
2013 15,050
2012 15,238
2011 14,788

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 18,052


Children Act - private law

Private law – parental disputes concerning the upbringing of children (annual total number of cases starting).

Children Act - private law
Year Children Act - private law
2020 55,669
2019 54,933
2018 51,671
2017 50,649
2016 48,243
2015 43,342
2014 42,105
2013 54,620
2012 52,056
2011 49,060

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 55,669


Matrimonial matters

Matrimonial cases – divorces, annulments and separations (annual total number of cases starting).

Matrimonial matters
Year Matrimonial matters
2020 114,402
2019 117,498
2018 119,068
2017 109,940
2016 114,740
2015 115,212
2014 113,285
2013 118,280
2012 125,075
2011 129,838
2010 133,888
2009 132,554
2008 129,335
2007 136,703
2006 147,773

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 114,402


Financial remedies

Financial remedy (formerly known as 'ancillary relief') – financial provisions after divorce or relationship breakdown (annual total number of cases starting).

Financial remedies
Year Financial remedies
2020 37,729
2019 39,451
2018 40,146
2017 42,308
2016 41,540
2015 37,949
2014 37,654
2013 42,919
2012 42,949
2011 41,666
2010 46,173
2009 46,081
2008 51,767
2007 58,496
2006 65,395

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 37,729


Domestic violence remedy orders

Domestic violence remedy orders (annual total number of cases starting).

Domestic violence remedy orders
Year Domestic violence remedy orders
2020 30,686
2019 25,373
2018 21,358
2017 21,214
2016 20,056
2015 19,508
2014 20,295
2013 19,738
2012 17,318
2011 17,057

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 30,686


Forced marriage protection

Forced marriage protection orders (annual total number of cases starting).

Forced marriage protection
Year Forced marriage protection
2020 225
2019 340
2018 283
2017 202
2016 231
2015 189
2014 137
2013 144
2012 109
2011 118
2010 111
2009 94

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 225


Female genital mutilation protection

Female genital mutilation protection orders (annual total number of cases starting).

Female genital mutilation protection
Year Female genital mutilation protection
2020 49
2019 102
2018 88
2017 85
2016 68
2015 35

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 49


All Adoption Act

All Adoption Act (annual total number of cases starting), as defined under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, including placement, adoption, along with other non-adoption orders including revocation of placement, change of surname and removal from the UK.

All Adoption Act
Year All Adoption Act
2020 9,226
2019 10,398
2018 11,101
2017 11,744
2016 12,189
2015 12,824
2014 13,084
2013 14,802
2012 13,167
2011 11,091

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 9,226


Applications made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Applications made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (annual total number of cases starting).

Applications made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
Year Applications made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
2020 30,635
2019 34,445
2018 32,029
2017 31,332
2016 29,711
2015 26,722
2014 26,272
2013 24,923
2012 24,877
2011 23,538
2010 20,459
2009 19,093
2008 22,583

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 30,635


Probate service - applications for grants of representation

Number of applications made for grants of representation in non-contentious probate proceedings.

Probate service - applications for grants of representation
Year Probate service - applications for grants of representation
2020 273,453
2019 269,343
2018 269,074
2017 286,371
2016 261,251
2015 285,135
2014 254,602
2013 272,111
2012 254,599

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 273,453


Office of the Public Guardian - total powers of attorney received

Total total powers of attorney received in England and Wales.

Office of the Public Guardian - total powers of attorney received
Year Office of the Public Guardian - total powers of attorney received
2020 744,078
2019 907,134
2018 810,275
2017 765,354
2016 603,150
2015 525,915
2014 373,788
2013 289,950
2012 245,723
2011 206,251
2010 182,734
2009 108,153
2008 72,998

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 744,078