The Family Court in England and Wales: An Effective Safety Net?

  • Jessica Mant


This article contributes an insight into how the decline of legal aid in family law has transformed the role of the family court in England and Wales, and how this is, in turn, is affecting the sustainability of the family justice system as a whole. It will begin by setting out some of the pressures that have historically characterized the legal aid system in England and Wales, focusing specifically on how family law advice and representation has been uniquely and particularly targeted by a host of intersecting political efforts to minimize people’s use of family lawyers and the family court when their relationships break down. The article will then turn to consider the consequences of this for the family court. Here, the article will reflect upon how these pressures have constrained capacity and altered working practices within the family court. In sum, it will examine how the decline of legal aid has impaired the extent to which the family court can effectively operate as a safety net for families in crisis, and what the future may hold for family justice.

Keywords: legal aid; access to justice; family law; litigants in person.


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Special Section: Declining Legal Aid and the Implications for Access to Justice