Family Law 2016 24 Jun 2016
Family Law 2016

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This report considers divorces and civil partnership dissolutions in the UK. It examines the opinions of those involved and their overall experience of getting a divorce/dissolution, their use or otherwise of legal representation when going through their divorce/dissolution, and their general understanding of the law and procedures relating to divorce/dissolution.


This is the fourth YouGov Reports Family Law publication, and alongside the previous reports allows tracking of attitudinal and behavioural changes in the use of family legal services, information sources, and ‘DIY divorces’, as well as examining trends in preferences, satisfaction levels and attitudes. In addition, it explores the concepts around employee well-being and divorce, investigating employer workplace policies and support for family law matters.


For this report, YouGov Reports commissioned a survey among YouGov’s online panel. The survey drew on a sample of 872 UK adults who had been involved in divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings in the last five years. 


Where available and where relevant, results for 2016 are compared with similar surveys completed in 2015, 2014 and 2013. Sample sizes in earlier years were 980 (May 2015) 1,070 (June 2014), 866 (May 2013).

Report Info
Table of Contents
  • Table of Figures
  • Introduction & Scope
    • Report coverage and methodology
      • Abbreviations
  • Report Summary
    • Report overview
      • Undefended divorces dominate
      • Mediation still not striking a chord
      • Use of law firms and solicitors slips; word-of-mouth is relied on
      • Solicitor contact is often virtual, satisfaction is generally good
      • Less than a quarter receive the bill that they were expecting
      • DIY divorces stable, but use of DIY divorce websites up
      • Pre-nuptials and mediation – consumers unclear about their role
      • Limited use of the child support agency/child maintenance service
      • Growing desire for clearer/simpler financial decisions
      • Market trends and future developments
  • Background
    • Key findings
      • The legal background - divorce
      • Nine out of 10 divorces/dissolutions were undefended
      • Unreasonable behaviour is consistently given as the main reason for split
      • DIY divorces stabilising, majority still use a legal representative
  • The Proceedings
    • Key findings
      • Solicitors and law firms still most popular for divorces
      • Nothing beats word-of-mouth when looking for legal advice
      • Majority still do not turn to mediation
      • Half know about DIY divorce and lawyers negotiating on their behalf
  • Fees and Communication
    • Key findings
      • Fees for divorce/dissolution vary
      • Majority face higher legal fees than they first expected
      • Hourly rates for legal advice still used extensively in divorce cases
      • Email communication favoured
      • Satisfaction in evidence – but room for improvement
      • Asking clients for feedback remains the exception
  • The Do-It-Yourself Option
    • Key findings
      • DIY divorce/dissolution is mostly ‘easy’ – but fewer say this about money, year-on-year
      • Online divorce websites used – small but possibly on the rise
      • Use of online divorce brands up slightly
      • Increasing percentage of DIY divorces/dissolutions at £500 or less…
      • …and more are satisfied with the way their DIY divorces went
  • Court Fees, Complexity and Attitudes
    • Key findings
      • One in four only learned of court fees during/at the end of proceedings
      • Divorce – more complicated than expected for some, simpler for others
      • Attitudes harden slightly on law change to improve financial settlements
      • Two years on, still limited awareness of the Children & Families Act…
      • …and few divorcing couples are aware of the mediation option
  • Getting Support, the Work Context and Using Advisory Bodies
    • Key findings
      • No rise in contact with the Child Support Agency/Child Maintenance Service
      • Advisory and support bodies are not used by many divorcees
      • Not everyone is satisfied with services from support agencies
      • Employers’ concepts of reasonable time off for divorce/dissolution varies
  • Market Trends
    • Key findings
      • Petitions for divorce and divorces granted continue to fall
      • A fragmented market
  • Future Developments
    • Key findings
      • Marriage up, divorces up
      • Possible market developments
  • Appendix
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