Research maps the link between private family law cases and deprived areas
New mapping has shown that separating parents who end up in the family courts to resolve private disputes over child arrangements are more likely to live in deprived areas.
A new mapping study from the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has shown that parents who end up in family courts in private law cases in Wales are more likely to live in deprived areas – an assumption that would usually be associated with public law cases.
The report is the first of its kind to use population-level data to examine trends in demand and links it to demographic data to create a profile of the families involved and the patterns of orders applied for.
The findings showed that there is a ‘clear link’ between deprivation and private law applications, which indicates that the economic vulnerability of private law parents has been previously overlooked.
Examining the data, researchers found that 29% of fathers and 33% of mothers making a private law application in 2018 lived in the most deprived 20% of areas, with 51% of fathers and 56% of mothers living in the most deprived 40% of areas.
The research also showed that there was some evidence of a ‘justice gap’ following legal aid changes, noticing a reduction in the proportion of applications brought by fathers, by younger applicants, and by fathers living in the most deprived areas from 2013 onwards.
The report is part of the Uncovering Private Family Law series, which aims to build a profile of families in private law proceedings, and their pathways and outcomes in England and Wales.
The authors of the article say “it is critical that policymakers now give due consideration to the role of deprivation as a factor in private law cases and its interaction with other factors such as conflict, domestic abuse and other child protection issues.”
View the interactive maps, and full analysis from the researchers at