Publication - Statistics publication

Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12

Published: 5 Dec 2012
Part of:
Statistics
ISBN:
9781782562443

Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12 provides information about cases which have gone through the civil courts in Scotland. together with some wider, contextual information about the extent of civil problems in Scotland.

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

Contents
Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12
5. Family

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

5. Family

Summary of Family:

  • Very few family cases are raised in the Court of Session (one per cent of all family cases).
  • The majority of family cases raised in the civil courts related to divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership (78 per cent).
  • The total number of divorces and dissolutions of civil partnerships granted during 2011-12 was 9,503, a decrease of two per cent compared to 2010-11.
  • The number of cases relating to parental responsibilities and rights decreased by 16 per cent during 2011-12 to 2,272.

Introduction to family law in Scotland

5.1 Family law covers a wide range of areas including divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership, parental responsibilities and rights (PRRs) and residence of and contact with children. The majority of family cases that proceed to court are raised in the sheriff courts.

Extent of family law problems in Scotland

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey Results

5.2 In the 2010-11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, three per cent of respondents who responded to the civil module, reported experiencing a problem with divorce, separation or involving relationships or children in the last three years. Of these, 97 per cent felt that their issue was 'very or quite important', with 71 per cent stating that it was the most important civil issue they were facing.

5.3 Amongst those for whom the issue was considered to be most important, almost half (49 per cent) had already solved the problem, while 42 per cent were still trying to solve it. 72 per cent had sought help or advice from others, with the majority (69 per cent) contacting a solicitor for help.

5.4 Results show that problems with family or relationships are more likely to be reported by women (58 per cent) than men (42 per cent) and by those aged between 35 and 44 years (seven per cent - at least three percentage points higher than any other age category).

Family law in the courts

5.5 It should be borne in mind that the courts data presented in this bulletin relate to principal craves only. Work will be carried out during 2013 to examine data on ancillary craves with a view to including additional information in the Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2012-13 bulletin.

5.6 In total, 13,679 family cases were initiated in the civil courts during 2011-12, a decrease of six per cent on 2010-11 and a decrease of eight per cent compared to 2008-09. Divorces and dissolutions accounted for the majority of cases initiated in 2011-12 (78 per cent), with parental responsibilities and rights cases accounting for 17 per cent. [Table 7].

5.7 The total number of family cases disposed of in the civil courts during 2011-12 was 11,864, a decrease of two per cent on 2010-11 and a decrease of ten per cent compared to 2008-09. [Table 7].

Table 7: Family cases initiated and disposed of1 in the civil courts2, by case type, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Case Type 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
Initiated
Aliment 82 88 89 69 -22
Divorce / Dissolution 11,752 11,159 11,018 10,678 -3
Exclusion order - matrimonial 7 18 26 14 -46
Interdict 381 409 262 329 26
Nullity of marriage / CP - - 2 1 -50
Parental Resp's / Rights 2,364 2,742 2,713 2,272 -16
Other 250 317 386 316 -18
Total 14,836 14,733 14,496 13,679 -6
Disposed
Aliment 55 46 50 64 28
Divorce / Dissolution 11,538 10,750 10,115 9,879 -2
Exclusion order - matrimonial 11 4 8 6 -25
Interdict 93 134 140 137 -2
Nullity of marriage / CP - - 2 2 -
Parental Resp's / Rights 1,276 1,416 1,596 1,542 -3
Other 177 198 216 234 8
Total 13,150 12,548 12,127 11,864 -2

1 Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details
2 Includes Court of Session and Sheriff Court

Court of Session

5.8 In 2011-12, there were 153 family cases initiated in the General Department of the Court of Session, representing 5 per cent of all cases initiated in this court. Of these, divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership accounted for 94 per cent of initiations and 89 per cent of disposals. [Table 8].

Table 8: Family procedure cases initiated and disposed1 of in the General Department of the Court of Session, by case type 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For Pursuer Expenses Only Other Total
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Aliment 1 1 - - 1 - - - 2 4
Divorce/ Dissolution 144 1 - 3 6 95 - - 12 117
Exclusion order2 - - - - - - - - - -
Nullity of Marriage / CP 1 - - 1 - 1 - - - 2
Parental Responsibilities & Rights 4 - - - 1 - - - - 1
Contact - - - - - - - - - -
Residence 3 - - - 1 - - - - 1
Other 1 - - - - - - - - -
Other 3 - 2 - 1 - - - 4 7
Total 153 2 2 4 9 96 - - 18 131

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
2. Exclusion orders which suspend the right of a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to occupy the family home.

Sheriff Court

5.9 There were 13,526 ordinary cause - family procedure cases initiated in the sheriff courts during 2011-12, a decrease of six per cent compared to 2010-11. The majority of family procedure cases were for divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership with 78 per cent of cases initiated and 83 per cent of cases disposed of this type. [Table 9]. For further information on divorce and dissolutions see paragraph 5.20.

5.10 Over three quarters of the remaining family cases initiated in 2011-12 related to parental responsibilities and rights, with 2,268 cases of this type initiated, a decrease of 16 per cent compared to 2010-11. Of the cases initiated in 2011-12, 43 per cent related to contact, 31 per cent to residence and 26 per cent to other parental responsibilities and rights. [Table 9].

5.11 As in previous years, there were relatively few disposals of parental responsibilities and rights cases in 2011-12 (1,541 compared to 2,268 initiated). One possible reason for this is that these cases can be sisted (suspended), whilst sheriffs seek further information, and parties can resolve their issues outside court during this time. These cases are not then brought back to court and finally disposed of. [Table 9].

5.12 Summary applications for a warrant to keep a child in a place of safety continued to increase, up from 1,550 in 2010-11 to 2,084 in 2011-12 (34 per cent). Nearly all of the 1,214 applications recorded as being disposed were granted (96 per cent). [Table 10].

5.13 In 2011-12 the number of applications for a referral to the sheriff where the result of a Children's Hearing is not understood or denied by the child or relevant person involved continued to fall, from 4,059 in 2010-11 to 3,840 in 2011-12 (five per cent). Of the 2,755 applications recorded as being disposed of in 2011-12, 78 per cent were granted and established the grounds for referral, with the case being referred back to the Children's Hearing to dispose of the case. [Table 10].

5.14 There were 522 Adoption Petitions initiated in 2011-12, an increase of 15 per cent on 2010-11. The number of adoption petitions fell during 2009-10 and have increased each year since then. Of the 475 cases disposed of in 2011-12, 97 per cent were granted, 0.6 per cent were withdrawn and 0.2 per cent were refused. There were 292 applications for PermanenceOrders with Authority to Adopt initiated in the same period. The volume of these orders (previously known as adoption freeing orders) have also increased each year since 2008-09 (by 85 per cent over the three year period). Of the 220 applications disposed of, 94 per cent were granted, four per cent were withdrawn and none were refused. [Table 10].

Table 9: Family procedure cases initiated and disposed1 of in the sheriff courts, by case type 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For Pursuer Expenses Only Other Total
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Aliment 68 4 25 3 14 8 - - 6 60
Divorce/ Dissolution 10,534 - 63 39 432 8,970 3 - 255 9,762
Exclusion order2 14 - 3 1 1 1 - - - 6
Interdict 329 1 36 11 35 42 - - 12 137
Parental Responsibilities & Rights 2,268 3 420 69 529 400 7 - 113 1,541
Contact 977 3 230 29 197 46 5 - 48 558
Residence 708 - 88 23 167 165 2 - 48 493
Other 583 - 102 17 165 189 - - 17 490
Other 313 13 57 7 36 103 1 1 9 227
Total 13,526 21 604 130 1,047 9,524 11 1 395 11,733

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
2. Exclusion orders which suspend the right of a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to occupy the family home.

Table 10: Family-related summary application cases initiated and disposed of 1,2, by case type and final disposal, 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Granted Dismissed Refused Dropped
from
Roll
Withdrawn Other Total
Adoption Petitions 522 463 5 1 - 3 3 475
Child in Place of Safety 2,084 1,160 29 4 10 7 4 1,214
Children's Hearings - Appeal 1,000 260 226 155 68 40 67 816
Children's Hearings - Referral 3,840 2,154 173 6 83 9 330 2,755
Exclusion Order - Child's Home 10 6 - - - - - 6
Permanence Orders with Authority to Adopt 292 206 3 - - 8 3 220

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
2. The number of cases disposed of is almost certainly an underestimate. See paragraph 11.8 for further details.

Divorce and Dissolution of a Civil Partnership

Introduction to Divorce and Dissolution in Scotland

5.15 Divorce and dissolution cases can be raised in either the Court of Session or the sheriff courts.

5.16 There are two grounds for divorce, which are:

  • The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which can be established by:
    • Adultery committed by the defender;
    • Unreasonable behaviour by the defender;
    • One year non-cohabitation and the defender consents to the divorce;
    • Two years non-cohabitation.
  • Either party being issued with an interim gender recognition certificate.

5.17 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005, allowing legal relationships between two people of the same sex to be formed. The first civil partnerships in Scotland were registered on 20 December 2005. A civil partnership can be ended on dissolution, which is similar to a divorce although adultery does not establish the irretrievable breakdown of a civil partnership. Same-sex unions from other jurisdictions were not recognised in Scotland until the Act came into force and so no dissolutions were possible until then.

5.18 Divorces and dissolutions can be applied for using two main procedures in the courts - simplified procedure and ordinary procedure. The simplified procedure is a low cost, simple method of obtaining a divorce/dissolution in cases where there are no children under 16 and no monetary claims by one spouse or partner against another[10].

5.19 The latest data on marriages and civil partnerships registered can be found in the Marriages and Civil Partnerships section of the National Records of Scotland website.

Background

5.20 Statistics on divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership were previously presented in the Divorces and Dissolutions in Scotland bulletin as part of the Crime and Justice Series of statistical bulletins. The last publication presented information about divorces and dissolutions in 2009-10. From this year onward, these statistics will be included within the Civil Law Statistics in Scotland bulletin.

5.21 The headline divorce and dissolution statistics for 2010-11 and 2011-12 [Table 11 and Table 12] are derived from the same aggregate data extract as the other statistics in this bulletin. The statistics presented in Divorces and Dissolutions in Scotland were based on a different source comprising individual level data. Both datasets are based on information recorded by the Scottish Court Service but there are small differences in the timing and processing of the data extracts (see paragraph 11.14).

5.22 The aggregate data source is the preferred source of the two due to more rigorous quality assurance and, as such, was used to produce the headline divorce and dissolution statistics for this bulletin. This also means the data on divorces and dissolutions are consistent with that used for other topics in this bulletin. The difference between the two data sources is illustrated in paragraph 11.14.

5.23 However, detailed disaggregation of divorces and dissolutions are not possible using the main data source for this bulletin, therefore statistics based on the individual level data, broken down by characteristics such as age at marriage/partnership, age at divorce/dissolution, duration and form of marriage/partnership are available on the Civil Law Statistics in Scotland website.

Divorce and Dissolutions Statistics

5.24 The total number of divorces granted in Scotland in 2011-12 was 9,453, 2 per cent fewer than in 2010-11 (9,653). 62 per cent of divorces granted in 2010-11 and 2011-12 used the simplified procedure and 38 per cent used the ordinary procedure. [Table 11].

5.25 There were 50 civil partnership dissolutions granted in 2011-12, up from 42 in 2010-11. The vast majority of dissolutions granted in 2010-11 (93 per cent) and 2011-12 (94 per cent) used the simplified procedure. [Table 12].

Table 11: Divorces granted1 in the civil courts by procedure, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Year Court Ordinary Simplified Total
2011-12 Court of Session 19 78 97
Sheriff Court 3,554 5,802 9,356
Total 3,573 5,880 9,453
2010-11 Court of Session 27 84 111
Sheriff Court 3,672 5,870 9,542
Total 3,699 5,954 9,653

1. The figures in Table 11 and Table 12 do not equal the total number of disposals for divorce and dissolution in Table 8 and Table 9. This is because these figures only include divorces/dissolutions that were actually granted. Table 8 and Table 9 include all disposals of divorce/dissolution cases.

Table 12: Dissolutions granted1 in the civil courts by procedure, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Year Court Ordinary Simplified Total
2011-12 Court of Session - 4 4
Sheriff Court 3 43 46
Total 3 47 50
2010-11 Court of Session - 2 2
Sheriff Court 3 37 40
Total 3 39 42

1. The figures in Table 11 and Table 12 do not equal the total number of disposals for divorce and dissolution in Table 8 and Table 9. This is because these figures only include divorces/dissolutions that were actually granted. Table 8 and Table 9 include all disposals of divorce/dissolution cases.

5.26 Figure 8 and Figure 9 show the proportion of divorces and dissolutions that were granted in 2010-11 and 2011-12 by reason for divorce/dissolution[11]. The two most common reasons for divorce were non-cohabitation for two years, which accounted for 68 per cent of divorces in 2011-12 (up from 61 per cent in 2010-11) and non-cohabitation for one year with consent, which was the reason for a quarter of divorces (25 per cent) in 2011-12 (down from 27 per cent in 2010-11).

5.27 Non-cohabitation for one year with consent was the most common reason for dissolutions in 2011-12, accounting for 63 per cent of dissolutions (down from 65 per cent in 2010-11). Non-cohabitation for two years was the next most common reason for dissolution, accounting for 30 per cent of dissolutions in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Figure 8: Divorces granted by reason, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Figure 8: Divorces granted by reason, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Figure 9: Dissolutions granted by reason, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Figure 9: Dissolutions granted by reason, 2010-11 and 2011-12


Contact

Email: Howard Hooper