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76% of family law cases feature litigant in person

A staggering 76 per cent of family law cases now have at least one party without representation, new figures have revealed.

New statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that both parties in a family law dispute have legal representation in only 24 per cent of cases between July and September.

This number has almost halved since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), which cut legal aid for all family law cases which do not involve provable domestic violence.

Between July and September of 2012, before LASPO was enacted, the number of family law cases where both parties had legal representation was 47 per cent.

Cases in which neither party is represented have also risen since the legal aid cuts. Before LASPO, only 15 per cent of cases did not feature any kind of legal representation. The new figures reveal that has now risen to 28 per cent of cases.

The number of litigants in person in family law cases has been on the rise since the changes to the legal aid rules. In October, a freedom of information request revealed that more than 60 per cent of parents contesting child arrangements do so without a lawyer.

Despite the rise in completely unrepresented family law disputes, the MoJ claims they are dealt with faster than those which have at least one party represented. According to government estimates, the average time to conclude a divorce case without representation is 20 weeks, whereas cases which had both parties represented took an average of 27 weeks.

Last month, a report by the MoJ on litigants in person made a similar claim.

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.

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