UK Family Law Market Trends Report 2020

27 Mar 2020

Steady market growth in 2019, and forecast to continue in 2020 and beyond

The UK Family Law Market Trends Report 2020 is the sixth edition of an annual report from IRN Research 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.

Between 2019 to 2024, the market is expected to grow by an average of 3.8% per year in value terms.

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 IRN Research 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.

The UK Family Law Market Report 2020 is available directly from IRN Research, priced at £200 (plus VAT).

Further details, including a Contents Page, and order details on the legal reports page:

Through the year, there are other Market Reports on: UK legal services; business legal services; clinical negligence; conveyancing; medico-legal & insurance; personal injury; wills, probate & trusts.



IRN Team

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