August 10, 2020

DIY Family Law – Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

By Penelope Charlesworth, Senior Associate

In the midst of a family law separation, legal costs can be an added worry. But as with any professional service, the costs should be considered in the context of the related benefits.

Where there is the ability to “DIY”, perhaps with the help of an online guide or artificial intelligence app, does that mean that quality family law advice and assistance is unnecessary? The short answer is no.

Right now, we are seeing an increase in individuals seeking family law advice as the pressures of COVID-19 take their toll on often already fractured relationships. Naturally, people want to keep their costs down and move through the process quickly and with minimal financial hit.

The lure of online “Do it yourself family law separation” kits and “what’s the likely outcome?” generators is understandable – a quick fix family law settlement? Brilliant! However, does this mean that you are placing yourself unnecessarily at risk, or over-compromising and causing long term issues for yourself and your children?

The Australian Government has supported the use of artificial intelligence app Amica as a program offering high quality analysis of a couple’s circumstances to “spit out” the solution to their family law problems. Undeniably this will assist people who are financially constrained and cannot afford any advice.

However, the human mind cannot always be replaced by technology. Most AI apps are only able to generate simple responses and suggestions based on non-complex family circumstances. A software program that you feed set information into won’t be able to hear the tone of your voice or read your facial expressions, to know when to ask more questions and delve deeper to find the information that could significantly change your legal entitlements, what really matters to you and the outcome of your case.

We understand that you might want to work out as much as you can before you meet with a lawyer – but nothing can replace that meeting, and the earlier the better.

Meeting with a lawyer and obtaining advice does not need to lead to fierce litigation and high costs. Whether it is a one-off chat to get a feel for what your entitlements might be, or to find out if your proposed settlement falls within the range of fair outcomes or to help you formalise the deal to protect yourself going forward, we are here to help.

Have a problem? We can help.