Data First: Family Court linked to Cafcass and Census 2021 - England and Wales

The Data First family court - Cafcass linked dataset came about from a data sharing agreement between the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, Ministry of Justice and Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). The de-identified dataset contains information on adoption, divorce, family law act,  public law and private law cases, and their legal outcomes, in England and Wales. Public law cases include local authority intervention to protect children, such as care or supervision proceedings, and private law cases include parental disputes concerning the upbringing of children, for example arrangements for contact, access or custody.

Census 2021 results contain data and supporting commentary on the population and households in England and Wales. This has been made available in the SAIL Databank for standalone access and linkage to other datasets. The family court - Cafcass linked dataset is the first ADR England flagship dataset to be made available with Census 2021 data.

Component datasets and linkage

MoJ family court data has been linked to Cafcass data. The dataset includes divorce, private law and Family Law Act cases, public law and adoption cases, family law applications and legal outputs, marriage and divorce characteristics, personal-level information, case events, timeliness, number of hearings and legal representation. The dataset includes a unique ID for each party.

Timeframe Family court data: January 2011 - March 2023. Cafcass: April 2007 - January 2023
Update Frequency
Coverage England and Wales
Data First: Family Court linked to Cafcass and Census 2021 - England and Wales


Introduction to the Data First: Family Court linked to Cafcass and Census 2021 dataset

Examples of research questions

  • What is the household composition of families in the family justice system and how does this change over time?
  • How do socio-demographic characteristics; education and qualifications, or employment of family court users compare with the general population? Does this vary by case or role type?
  • Who are the repeat users of family courts and which characteristics are more common among repeat users?
  • Which proportion of private cases have had previous public law proceedings and vice versa?
  • What variation (by local authority and/or court area) is seen in the way family courts are dealing with cases?

Core documentation

Icon representing a user

User guide

Visit the Data First introductory user guide.

Icon representing documents

Data dictionary

The data catalogue for Census 2021 will be available soon.

Other supporting resources

Resource Description
Webinar This explainer webinar gives an overview of the family justice system and how the family court - Cafcass linked dataset can be used to address key evidence gaps.

Information about research priorities

Accessing the data

Researchers seeking to securely access any of the datasets produced by the Data First programme must first become an accredited researcher by completing the relevant forms from the UK Statistics Authority and submitting them to

If you are already an accredited researcher, you can apply to access the specific data required for your project from the SAIL Databank.

Containing billions of person-based records, SAIL Databank is a rich and trusted population databank. Following application and approval, it provides researchers with secure, fully linkable and anonymised data that can be accessed and analysed from anywhere in the world. SAIL can also anonymously link new data uploaded by users to existing routinely-collected data within SAIL (subject to approvals).

Costs are dependent on support and infrastructure needs related to your project (such as time for data preparation and use of computing resources). In practice, this means that there is a cost for most projects. This varies based on the complexity of the project, the support you would like from us, and the type of funding. These costs are detailed during the scoping process. Find out more.

Funding opportunity

ADR UK is inviting applications for funding to conduct policy-relevant research using ADR England flagship datasets, including the Family Court linked to Cafcass and Census 2021 - England and Wales dataset. Research fellows will address priority research questions, generate insights and demonstrate the value of ADR England data. Find out more about this funding opportunity on the UKRI funding finder.

See the funding opportunity

“The Data First project is likely to be the most significant step forward in the provision of hard and reliable information about the family justice system for a generation. It breaks entirely new ground and the fruits of the data that will be provided are likely to inform policy and practice and identify important trends for decades to come. Its advent could not be more welcome.”

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the judiciary in England and Wales

Download the ADR England Flagship Datasets brochure

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.