Family Court System
Halt | January 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Family Court System Still Facing Significant Backlogs and Delays

The family court system is continuing to be impacted by court delays and backlogs. There are several potential factors contributing to the issues, for example, new laws that affect the time given for transferring property and other assets for divorcing couples, plus other aspects that have caused the build-ups. In this article, we will look at the possible causes of the backlogs.

Family Court System: Current State of Backlogs

Awarding Costs and Lawyer’s Fees in Florida Family Law Cases

HM Courts and Tribunals Service figures reported in the Law Gazette point to a backlog in the family courts of around 110,000. And many of these cases will be particularly distressing for some families, for example, those that involve child arrangement orders or those seeking protection from domestic abuse situations.

What is Impacting Family Court Delays?

The overall backlogs and delays are likely to be a combination of factors that have affected the court systems over recent times. Below are some of the potential factors:


The pandemic has been cited as a key reason for the delays because of the unexpected and extensive changes in court operations in England and Wales. For example, one of these changes was the need to swiftly bring in the use of remote court hearings to meet social distancing measures. The courts also had to prioritize cases such as interim care orders leaving some general administration further down the list, resulting in delays. However, according to some, there was already a strain on the justice system prior to the pandemic.

The Condition of Court Buildings

Family court

An article in the Financial Times details a report from The Law Society exploring the condition of court buildings and their impact. The research from the professional association drew on feedback from solicitors and discovered that two-thirds of respondents had experienced delays due to the ‘physical state of the courts’. Although it appears to be criminal cases that have been impacted the most, family cases are now taking an average of 49 weeks to be handled, according to the findings.

The Impact of New No-Fault Divorce Laws

Another possible reason for the delays is a surge in new applications due to the introduction of the new Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2022. Some experts believe that the new rules have in particular, caused a spike in older people getting divorces. This is likely down to the new rules making it easier for couples to file statements to end their marriage as they no longer have to attribute reasons for their divorce. Not having to do this means there is less opportunity for conflict in proceedings, a factor for those who may have previously been put off divorcing because of potential acrimony.

The Lack of Legal Aid

Family court

Legal aid was removed following government cost-saving exercises in 2013. Many legal experts believe that this had previously supported early advice in family disputes, which had helped reduce the number of cases going to court. They also say it has given rise to more people representing themselves, ‘Litigants in person’ (or LiPs) in often complex and lengthy court battles.

No Gain No Loss Laws About to Come into Effect

Finally, although speculative, it could be that the new Capital Gains Tax measures could impact matters in the future too. Due to be introduced this Spring, the new regulations apply to spouses who are transferring assets after the date 6th April 2023. Prior to this, couples (or civil partners) have to sell or transfer assets within the same tax year as their separation in order not to pay CGT. The new rules extend the current period named ‘no gain no loss’ up to three years. It’s possible this could encourage some couples to look more favorably on filing for divorce, but the impact remains to be seen.

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