Sunday, 7 April 2013

The role of a family law solicitor

One of the hardest things to do when splitting up is to think rationally. Separation can be the most difficult of times, when often all that appeared to be certain and safe suddenly becomes uncertain and potentially unsafe. Even the most sensible of people wonder whether they are making the right choices, in their financial life or about their kids.
A large part of a family lawyer's role is to help guide clients through this process, including assisting clients to make rational and smart decisions, for the benefit of themselves and their children. A good family lawyer does this by focussing on their duty to the client - but above all the duty to the proper administration of the law.
Some people want their family law solicitor to be aggressive, antagonistic, and forceful - to ‘fight’ for them, or as someone once said to me “be a bulldog”. But the family law system – the Family Law Act and the Family Law Courts – is not set up that way. Believe it or not the entire system is focussed on compromise, on reaching a resolution that reflects your financial reality or the circumstances of your family. And this means that both sides will compromise.
Other people treat their lawyer as a counsellor. Despite all my experience in family law I haven't been trained as a counsellor, the emotionally pressured nature of family law negotiations (especially at Court) is not a great environment for reflection or contemplation ... and we charge for our time.
And others want their family law solicitor to fix all of their financial problems. Family lawyers are not experts on all topics, for example, we are not financial planners - indeed, we are not allowed to give our clients financial advice – nor are we mortgage brokers or bankers.
But what a good family law solicitor will do is take an holistic approach to your matter:
  • Listen to you
  • Identify the problems that need a solution
  • Provide advice about your legal options (including reaching amicable agreement and if necessary your Court options)
  • Negotiate, and if necessary litigate, to reach a resolution of your parenting or property matters
  • Refer you to an expert who can help with the non-legal issues and then work with that expert to reach an overall solution
The entire aim of this approach is to give you as much peace of mind as possible, which enables you to make informed choices, which in turn allows you to return your focus on your life, including being the best parent you can be for your children. This approach also means that my clients can save a lot of money, either in a better financial outcome in the property settlement and/or resolving the matter sooner, saving substantial legal costs. A good outcome for everyone.

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