The number of court cases in England and Wales is high—and rising.

Our family courts alone dealt with almost 60,000 cases in the second quarter of 2015, up 4 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Justice. That's almost 1,000 cases per working day.

At the same time, the number of people representing themselves in court is sharply up. The National Audit Office reports a 30 per cent rise in family court cases in which neither side has a lawyer. One of the factors behind this increase is that many people can't afford to use a lawyer. To learn about getting help with legal costs, look at our information about legal costs.

If you're involved in a legal dispute it's worth weighing up your options before you decide to go to court. Some cases can be resolved out of court. ‘Alternative dispute resolution' (ADR) can save you money—and spare you the stress of formal court proceedings. For more about ADR, check out this factsheet from Citizens Advice.

If going to court is your only option, try your best to prepare for what could be a stressful, complicated process. We can help put you in the picture: read our guide on I want to represent myself in court.

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