News | Legal News

30 September 2016

More than a third of family court cases involve no legal representation

Some 34% of family court cases have no legal representative for either party, new statistics show.

Quarterly statistics from the Ministry of Justice show neither the party were represented in more than a third of cases for the period April to June.

This is the highest figure since April 2013, when changes were brought to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offender Act, restricting legal aid in family cases and prompting a surge in unrepresented cases.

Since April 2013, Legal Aid is only available in public family law cases (such as adoption) or private family law cases (such as contact or divorce) if there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse and child abduction cases.

Prior to this, the proportion of completely unrepresented family court cases was 17%, rising to 40% after the legislation was implemented.

However, the first quarter of this year shows the average time taken to deal with care or supervision proceedings is around 27 weeks.

Although this figure has dropped in recent years, courts are still failing to meet the 26-week time limit imposed by the Children and Families Act 2014 in 40% of cases.

The average time for dealing with divorce cases with sees an increase of 4.4 weeks, comparing this quarter with April to June 2015.

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