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Increase in Family Law Civil Cases

The latest civil justice statistics published today by Scotland's Chief Statistician Roger Halliday, shows the number of family law cases heard in the Sheriff's Court and the Court of Session is up slightly by around 3% in 2016-17 compared to that of the previous year. In 2016-17, there were 13,250 family procedure cases initiated, compared to 12,892 in 2015-16.

In 2016-17 the majority of family cases initiated – around 76% - were for divorce or dissolution hearings. In total there were 7,938 divorces or dissolutions granted, nearly all of which were heard in the Sheriff's Court. Only 104 cases – around 1% - were heard in the Court of Session.

18% of the family cases initiated concerned parental responsibilities and rights, the remaining 5% concerned other issues such as adoption.

Despite the slight increase in divorces and dissolutions in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, the overall trend since 2008-09 continues to be for the number of divorce and dissolution cases to decrease year-on-year.

This decline is a trend which follows the rest of the UK and other developed countries in recent years. A variety of explanations have been given for this shift - including an increase in people who choose never to get married and instead cohabit with their partners. There is also a greater tendency for those who do get married to do so later in their lives when couples have a better grasp of who they are, meaning they are better able to manage and avoid any potential conflicts.

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