A DECREASE IN DIVORCES BUT OTHER FAMILY LAW AREAS GROWING
The UK Family Law Market Briefing is the third edition of an annual IRN Legal Market Briefing from IRN Research and provides an overview of the UK family law market.
A clear majority of family law practitioners are expecting volume and revenue growth over the next 12 months. Key market drivers identified by practitioners are: legal advice in new areas such as same-sex couples and co-habiting couples; more cases involving financial matters and disputes; mediation services; international work.
Other key findings:
Divorce matters account for almost half of all cases in the Family Court but the decade up to 2015 has seen a long-term decrease in divorces: between 2005 and 2015, petitions filed have fallen by almost 24% and the number of Decrees Absolute granted has fallen by almost 28%. In 2015, civil partnership dissolutions reached their highest annual total so far.
The family law sector, like the consumer legal market as a whole, exhibits the classic long-tail characteristics of a professional services sector. A few major companies dominate the market, followed by a long-tail of companies of diminishing size. There are large specialist international law firms dealing with high net worth clients and offering family law services plus large law firms focusing on consumer law. There are niche family law specialist firms and then a large number of general practice law firms offering family law alongside other consumer law services.
Other providers of family law services include 10-15 leading online divorce sites with most operating in the unregulated legal sector, family law barristers offering their services direct to the public, and voluntary bodies and agencies offering legal advice such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).