Routes through court: understanding the different journeys of families through private law proceedings

Project Dates

May 2024 - April 2025


Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

Project Summary

Decisions made in the family courts have a significant impact on the lives of children and families, including where a child lives, who they live with, and who they spend time with.

Significant numbers of families are involved in private law cases in England and Wales each year – over 50,000 new cases started in 2022, involving around 80,000 children (Ministry of Justice 2023). The majority of cases are between separating parents, where they cannot reach agreement arrangements for children.

Building on the work undertaken by the Family Justice Data Partnership, this new 12-month project will investigate the dynamics of private law cases, including how long they last and how many return to court.  It will also consider whether pathways vary by the demographic characteristics of families or where they live.

The study will use anonymised population-level data administrative collected by the family courts, by Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) and Cafcass Cymru.

Research Team

Dr Linda Cusworth, Principal Investigator

Dr Bachar Alrouh, Co-Investigator

Jade Hooper, Researcher


For further information, contact Linda Cusworth (

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