Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Almost half of court cases involving children now feature litigants in person

Almost half of all court cases involving children now feature unrepresented litigants in person, new research suggests.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice under a Freedom of Information request, 45 per cent of the people who went to court for the matters concerning children in the six months to September last year had no legal representation. According to a report in the Independent, the percentage equates to 21,574 people.

Divorce, child residence, parental responsibility and guardianship hearings were all affected.

Only 37 per cent of cases involving children featured ‘litigants in person’ in the previous 12 months. The paper estimates that the courts may see a 30 per cent rise in unrepresented family litigants over the coming year.

Meanwhile, there was a 36 per cent drop in the number of family disputes going to mediation between April and September 2013, compared to the previous year.

Most family law cases ceased to be eligible for legal aid in April last year.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman  told the paper: “There have always been a significant number of people representing themselves in court … and we provide information and guidance to help them. Judges also have expertise in supporting them, for example by explaining procedures and what is expected.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.


  1. vob re says:

    Out of the unrepresented cases, it would be interesting to know
    what the outcomes are. It is very unfair that Social Services have all the resources at the taxpayers expense to contest a case and the Litigant in person’ gets no help. A recipe for long term human misery .

  2. Caz says:

    The outcome of all cases when Jopublic v social services
    Jopublic 0 social services 100% win
    With or without legal representation, Court Orders, Judges parents have no chance of victory, the whole system is rigged against them by the state, sorry to say

  3. Sandra says:

    I have been helping a lot of litigants in person and it is true that if one goes alone it’s a lost case from the start. Even if a litigant in person is assisted by a PSU member, the litigant in person is looked upon by the Judge as not emotionally stable. A PSU member told me once that litigants in person DO NOT WIN CASES IN THE COURT OF APPEAL. It is easier for the Judge to initially praise the Litigant in Person and then deny the appeal as having no merit. The wording is all the same in all cases I observed. The cases I assisted were very different as the Judge knew that the Litigant in Person was well informed of the law the court must follow and implement. A litigant in person needs to understand that he/she NEEDS a person with legal knowledge and expertise to put the court and Judge in the know that although not represented, the law is clear and it needs to be followed. The right questions and points of law need to be asked and stated. The legal system is an avenue for employment of solicitors and barristers. Law is business. Hopefully, this will change in the very far away future.

  4. Caz says:

    How clear can the law be, as in the rule of law in setting down of a childs name, surname(s) in capitals only,
    In my grandsons name the full name (which was made up of his christian name, middle name left out, then his fathers surname, then his mothers surname all in capitals, into a name of a child that had never existed, from a birth certified name, from the name he was registered in the local hospital, from which all the supposed evidence (paid for) from doctors who were firstly searching for answers to why at 7weeks old my Grandson, who suffered a traumatic breech, legs outstreched birth at the same hospital, and had since birth 1. No sucking reflex, 2. Cat like Cry
    3. Jerking back spasms 4. constantly infected Eyes 5. Head was not growing (Chart evidence local child clinic) 6, weekly visits to doctors in first 7weeks, From medical search CT Scan, X Ray, MRI Scan for diagnosis Cerebral Atrophy, Police investigation as to why he had fall at home, viewing home video that captured backward jerk, with conclusion No Injuries, investigation closed, to being accussed of causing 2 Skull Fractures, Cerebral Haematoma, and brain haemorrhage in the name of a child
    that has never existed, cannot be changed High Court of Appeal.
    Take the baby into Care, change the childs name to birth certified name, a bit of Area Court Hopping without informing the family, job done, baby adopted

  5. Tristan says:

    I don’t like to hear the details of many of these cases as the distress that parents feel in describing their situations is all too palpable.

    One thing I’ll say about President Munby is that he has allowed the heavy drapes of secrecy to be removed from some of these cases and he himself commented on one such “cut and paste” injustice recently which he said he hoped he would never come across again. Secrecy in our Star Chamber-like family courts protects all the wrong people. It needs to go, definitively.

  6. vob re says:

    ‘lost cause’
    Litigants in person ,’ looked upon as emotionally unstable’
    ‘Freedom of information’
    A total of 181 local Authority staff sacked last year deemed as a risk to children. I wonder how many of these influenced the Judges before ousted.
    How many more are left in the system contributing to children being removed from families permanently?

  7. Vicky says:

    We have just had a horrible court case where the judge decided on closed adoption, we were Litegants in person and even when we went to Court of appeal. We didnt have much knowledge of the law so we didnt stand a chance, the LA used all my past history to make me feel like a bad parent and we wouldnt work with LA! and no support package was even offered as judge said it would make no difference, he wouldnt even try, he took all what social services said as if we would harm our granddaughter!! We have our other 3yr old granddaughter everyweek with no problems. Justice Munby aought to sit in these courts and see what these s/wrkers do to families. They say they help keep families together thats a lie for a start!! They have torn our family apart!

  8. Paul says:

    Vicky, if you cannot afford a solicitor then Google around for a Mckenzie Friend who could take the job on of looking at the facts of your case to see whether a further appeal would be warranted. You really ought not to be stepping into a court unaided if you don’t know the law. It’s bad enough even when you do know the law!

  9. vob re says:

    Vicky if there is no family silver to sell, beg and borrow.
    You need the law, some of these Judges are not that expert on particular areas.
    There are solicitors that deal with Grandparents.
    Did you have a Viability Assessment ?
    Did you request an independent Social Worker who does not work for the LA ?
    We have all made mistakes, unfortunately there are many
    social workers masquerading as the perfect people to determine other children s future lives when their own offspring’s turn out less than perfect.
    Keep on fighting . Have you tried contacting John Hemming
    MP online you probably know he campaigns fiercely against forced adoption.

Leave a comment

Help & advice categories


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for advice on divorce and relationships from our lawyers, divorce coaches and relationship experts.

What type of information are you looking for?

Privacy Policy