The UK Family Law Market Trends Report is the sixth edition of an annual report from the publisher and provides an overview of the UK family law market.
The sector experienced steady growth in 2019 and this is forecast to continue in 2020 and beyond. Divorce numbers are expected to continue to fall. Work in other areas is likely to drive growth, for example, legal work for same-sex marriages and divorces, Children Act work, domestic violence work, and international family law cases.
The long-term trend has been a decline in the number of marriages and this, in turn, reduces the number of divorces. Demand for divorce work, and legal advice related to the financial arrangements after a split, has fallen in the last few years. However, there is growth in other areas such as child protection work and domestic abuse cases. Same-sex marriages/relationships are growing resulting in more legal work for same-sex couples on a par with legal work for couples of the opposite sex.
There are now more legal advisors working in mediation although the uptake of the Government-backed Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMS) is relatively low. The demand for advice regarding cross-border divorces and other family law issues is growing and many individuals, even though they are based outside the UK, prefer to have their divorce handled under English law.
The removal of legal aid for most family law cases has made it more expensive for some to pursue a divorce and some other family law matters and a consequence of the legal aid reductions has been the increase in DIY divorces and litigants in person (LIPs) representing themselves. Many of these LIPs have found navigating the courts system difficult resulting in delays and inefficiencies. Delays in the family courts have also been hampered by a general increase in cases in certain areas like child protection and abuse cases, a shortage of judges, and poor IT systems.
A large percentage of firms involved in the family law market are optimistic about the prospects for the coming year according to the latest publisher survey. However, the survey was conducted before the COVID-19 crisis in the UK. A large majority of firms - 70% - are predicting increased work volumes in the next 12 months.
- A Fragmented Market But A Few Major Players
- A Mix Of Positive And Negative Impacts On The Market
- Family Law Developments In 2019/20
- Most Family Law Practitioners Had A Good 2019 And Are Optimistic
- Up To 6,000 Law Firms Working In Family Law
- A Single Family Court
Market Developments And Drivers
- Marriage And Co-Habitation Trends
- Number Of Divorces Drops To Lowest Level In 2018
- Same Sex Marriages A New Growth Sector
- Legal Aid Changes Have Meant A Decline In Work And Funding
- Mediation Starts Increasing After A Number Of Years Of Decline
- Numbers Of Litigants In Person Increasing
- No-Fault Divorce – A Step Nearer
- Civil Partnerships For Opposite-Sex Couples
- Domestic Abuse Bill Returns To Parliament
- Financial Remedies Courts Established
- MOJ’S Online Divorce System Open To Legal Professionals
- Family Court Delays
- Regional Divorce Centre Being Phased Out
- Covid-19 – The Impact On Family Courts
The Key Players
- Solicitors - London Firms
- Solicitors - Rest Of The Uk
- Online Divorce
Market Size And Trends
- Healthy Market Growth In 2019
- Divorce Cases Generate The Greatest Volume Of Work
- Divorce Petitions Decreased In 2019
- Financial Remedy Applications Continued To Drop In 2019
- Private Children Act Cases Increased Significantly In Last Five Years
- Volume Of Domestic Violence Work Increases Significantly In 2019
- Adoption Cases Are Declining
- A Market Worth Over £2 Billion By 2024
- Family Law Practitioner Survey - Optimism From Most