Family law accounted for around 18% of the 7,500 or so complaints handled by the Legal Ombudsman in 2011-2012, making it the most complained about area of law. Of the family law complaints investigated by the Ombudsman, just over half were related to divorce.
The report acknowledges that the higher proportion of complaints about family law services is to be expected given the emotional nature of the disputes. However the Ombudsman says that family lawyers could still do more to reduce the number of complaints.
The largest area for complaints on divorce was cost; around one quarter of the divorce complaints the Ombudsman dealt with were on this issue. Research conducted for the report showed that roughly a fifth of clients were not given an estimate of costs when first consulted.
To reduce the number of dissatisfied clients, the Ombudsman has recommended that lawyers provide proper estimates, update clients regularly on costs, encourage clients to manage costs better themselves, and ensure that they put the interests of a client first. To help, the Ombudsman has produced a costs guide for lawyers (pdf).