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.”