The majority of mothers who are going to court in family law cases are doing so without legal representation, according to recent data.
Figures obtained by The Independent show that, for the first time, there are more unrepresented mothers in court than those who have access to a lawyer.
This finding came as part a report on the impact of the legal aid cuts, which went into effect in 2013.
According to the report, 58 per cent of parents went into court without a lawyer last year.
In the year before the cuts, only 44 per cent of parents did not have legal representation in family law cases. This is an increase of 20,000 parents. Of the parents who went unrepresented last year, 53 per cent of them were women.
Jerry Karlin, chair of the shared parenting charity Families Need Fathers, said the statistics were “staggering” and called for “affordable and compelling services” to be developed as an alternative to the courtroom.
This is not the first set of data to highlight the increase in ‘litigants in person’. Earlier this year, it was reported that 52 per cent of people attending children’s cases had no legal representation between November and December last year.
The government claimed the cuts to legal aid would result in more family disputes being solved by mediation, but only half of adults are aware of it, and there has been a 38 per cent drop in people choosing it since the cuts came into effect.