Dealing with the breakdown of a relationship is one of life’s biggest stressors so choosing the right family lawyer is an important decision. Many family law clients have never dealt with a lawyer before so it is important for them to know what is expected as ‘best practice’ from a family lawyer.
The Best Practice Guidelines for Lawyers Doing Family Law Work were prepared by a joint committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the Family Law Council and set out guidelines for practitioners practising in the area of family law. The Guidelines are aimed at encouraging best practice in family law through a constructive and conciliatory approach to resolution of family disputes. The Guidelines reflect the views of qualified and experienced family lawyers as to what constitutes best practice.
A good family lawyer will:
- Explain the various legal options available to you including Collaborative Practice, mediation and litigation,
- Provide you copies of any court documents or correspondence,
- Ensure that you understand the contents and meaning of documents you sign,
- Advise you of any court dates or conferences,
- Promote alternative dispute resolution as an option before issuing court proceedings,
- Consider whether you would be eligible for legal aid,
- Give you the best information possible about likely overall costs and ensure that costs are not unreasonably incurred,
- Ensure you fully understand the implications and obligations arising from Court orders,
- Warn you about the potentially damaging effects of involving your children in disputes, and
- Encourage you to provide full, frank and clear disclosure of material facts, information and documents,
The Guidelines are useful for self-represented litigants in situations of family breakdown as they show how matters should be approached with an aim to minimise dispute and stress. The Guidelines also seek to encourage practitioners to explore alternative dispute resolution options such as Collaborative Practice where clients can seek to reduce conflict and work together to reach a resolution of issues.