Grant Thornton Matrimonial Survey 2014: self-advocacy and the litigant in person

Family|December 15th 2014

The continuing rise in the numbers of litigants in person appearing in family courts is the number one issue cited by the family lawyers polled for the latest Grant Thornton Matrimonial Survey.

Close to a quarter of the family lawyers polled for the survey chose the “increased number of litigants in person due to lack of public funding” as the number one issue in family law over the previous year, making it the most popular concern cited. Unrepresented litigants in person also topped the chart in last year’s survey.

Two different quoted concerns tied for the number two slot, with 14 per cent of the respondents each: ‘lack of legal aid for most family law cases’ and, perhaps more surprisingly, ‘courts not being fit for purpose’.

By contrast with last year’s survey, the number of family lawyers who cited the economic downtown and liquidity as a significant issue has fallen from 15 per cent to just seven per cent. In the 2012 survey, 23 per cent of the lawyers surveyed cited economic considerations as the number one issue, making it the most cited concern that year.

Meanwhile, forty per cent of respondents said they had seen an increase in the average age of people getting divorced. A decisive majority say people are now most likely to divorce in their 40s, while seventy per cent said the majority of marriages come to an end after 11-20 years. Only nine per cent said the majority of divorces followed a marriage of more than 20 years: down from one fifth the previous year.

Read the report here.

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