Information on Family Legal Matters

The Risks of Representing Yourself in Family Law Matters.

You can choose to represent yourself in any Family Law matter – but in more complex cases with high levels of conflict, it could cost you.

In some meetings with a new client, I see that the issues in dispute are narrow and not particularly complex and communication between my client and their spouse remains constructive and relatively conciliatory.

In these cases, after giving them advice about parameters of resolution that the law provides and permits, I suggest to the client that they firstly discuss settlement options privately with their spouse without any formal intervention by me.

In an encouraging number of cases, the client returns sometime later to inform me that agreement has been reached and they seek my assistance to formally document the agreement. In these cases, it is cheaper, quicker, and more productive to represent yourself in reaching an agreement.

You can represent yourself in any family law matter. When a matter has high levels of conflict and disagreement, complexity, or risk issues, it is not advisable to do so. While self-representation can save you money in the short-term, it will often cost you in other ways.

Being entirely objective in negotiating or preparing for court hearings is very difficult. Your ability to carry out such tasks will be considerably handicapped if you are dealing with a controlling, emotionally abusive or manipulative spouse.

A litigious environment with your spouse can be emotionally triggering for you.

Emotional reactions:

  • Anger
  • Avoidance
  • Defensiveness

that you may have developed during the relationship to cope with certain behaviours of your spouse, may be inappropriate representing yourself in negotiations or court litigation. It may jeopardise the very outcomes you see financially for yourself and the arrangements for your children.

The other difficulty is to obtain the appropriate level of legal knowledge and insight to effectively navigate and apply the voluminous pages of legal rules, legislation, principles, and cases that will be required and relevant in determining your case.

Behaviours, actions, attitudes, and feelings that you may think are important in your case may not be relevant at all in deciding your case and may damage your case.
Without the appropriate knowledge, training, and experience, it is very difficult to know the assets you should be, seeking by way of property settlement, whether you should seek a maintenance order, and if so, how much and what are the best arrangements for your children in the short and long term.

Family lawyers have knowledge of the taxation consequences of dividing assets in a property settlement. Not knowing these consequences before a Court makes an Order can be financially detrimental to you.

Preparing your case for a mediation or court is very time consuming. For a lawyer, weeks of work is done to prepare for just one day in court or a mediation.

In preparing your case with a lawyer, you will be surprised how unemotional, precise, structured, and factually detailed court documents are required to be. Strict time limits apply in filing your court documents. If you get it wrong, you may be penalised by having to pay your spouse’s legal costs.

It is strongly recommended that you retain a family lawyer who is an accredited specialist to represent you in your family law matter.

Please contact me or one of my team to discuss representing you in your family law matter.