In the past, if you had family issues and needed legal advice you would have automatically turned to a solicitor. The solicitor would have advised you about your rights and handled your case from beginning to end including representing you in the lower courts. However, if the matter was complicated or had to be taken to a higher court your solicitor would have contacted and instructed a barrister on your behalf. You would have then had to pay for both a solicitor and a barrister.
Prior to 2009, it was not possible for a member of the public to instruct a barrister directly, so people had no choice but to pay both professionals. Today, for some legal matters, including most family law related matters, a private individual can now instruct a barrister. This gives people dealing with family issues who need legal advice the chance to deal with just one legal professional. It is an approach that many people find easier. In many cases, instructing a barrister directly works out cheaper than using both a solicitor and a family law barrister.
Barristers who specialise in family law are fully conversant with the law. They spend a lot of their time in court, so know how to construct a case and win it. Their overview of both the law and how it is applied in the courts allows them to pull together the right kind of evidence from sources that the courts recognise. Directly employing a family law barrister is not possible for all cases, but a good barrister will tell you if you need to use a solicitor too.