The Role of a Lawyer in Hostile Family Law Situations

Article Kara Cook 14 November 2023

It’s no exaggeration to say that family law matters can be some of the most emotionally charged and contentious legal situations a person can face. Whether it’s matters concerning divorce, child custody, property settlements, spousal support, or other family-related disputes, these issues can strain relationships even further and the situation can become hostile if not dealt with properly.

One of the key roles that a lawyer can play in a volatile family law situation is to act as a strong and objective advocate, guiding their clients through the legal process without becoming emotionally involved, and ultimately working towards an equitable (if not amicable) resolution.

10 Ways in which a Family Lawyer Can Help

If you, or someone you know, is involved in a family dispute that has the potential to become ‘hostile’, appointing an experienced family lawyer is the best way forward. 

There are ten things that clients both expect and value when appointing a family lawyer:

1. Receiving Expert Legal Advice

One of the fundamental roles of a family lawyer is to provide expert legal advice to their clients. This advice not only ensures that clients understand their rights and responsibilities under the law, but also enables them to make informed decisions. 

Expert legal advice is critical for reducing uncertainty in family law situations and ensuring that all avenues to resolution are explored and any relevant deadlines can be met.

2. Property Valuation and Division

In financial situations, an experienced family lawyer can work with you to ensure your assets, such as businesses, real estate, or investments are valued correctly. Your lawyer will work hard to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the asset pool between the parties during a property settlement.

3. Negotiating an Outcome

Where possible lawyers will advocate for negotiation as a way of resolving family disputes. This is because negotiation is generally a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve issues.

An experienced family lawyer can help their client reach an agreement that addresses their needs and concerns, and ultimately aims to have all parties satisfied with the result, thus limiting any lingering hostility or potential for ongoing conflict.

4. Mediation

Lawyers acting as mediators can create an environment where both sides can express their grievances and views openly, and ultimately identify common ground or areas in which a compromise is possible.

Mediation is generally the approach advised for resolving child custody issues as it promotes cooperation and can help protect the child from any conflict or hostility that might otherwise occur.

If formal mediation is required, your lawyer can recommend the best way forward.

5. Representation In Court

Unfortunately, in some situations, separated couples can fail to reach a resolution to their dispute through mediation or negotiation.  An experienced family lawyer will then be able to represent their client in court. There, they will advocate for their clients' interests and ensure that any relevant information is considered when the case is heard and ultimately decided.

6. Documenting Agreements

Family law matters often involve a significant amount of paperwork and legal documentation, such as Parenting and Property Consent Orders, Financial Agreements etc. Accurate and well-prepared documentation can prevent misunderstandings and disputes, reducing the potential for hostilities to arise in the future from unclear terms or unresolved issues. Lawyers are responsible for preparing and reviewing these documents to ensure accuracy and legality.

7. Protection

Lawyers play a crucial role in protecting their clients from potential legal pitfalls, and in doing so, work to prevent the client from making decisions or taking actions that are unwise, or, could potentially lead to further conflict or legal complications.

8. Encouraging Objectivity and Calm

Emotions often run high in family law disputes. An experienced family lawyer can remain objective and help clients to view their circumstances more objectively. By offering a detached viewpoint, based on legal principles and precedents rather than emotion, lawyers can reduce the emotional intensity and help clients make rational and informed decisions.

9. Reaching a Resolution

Ultimately, a family lawyer’s objective is to help resolve family law disputes. Their goal is to reach a resolution that is fair and equitable for their client, and to do so as quickly and painlessly as possible. By bringing the matter to an efficient resolution, lawyers help parties achieve closure and start to focus on rebuilding their lives.

10. Referrals to Other Professionals

Finally, lawyers provide more than just legal guidance; they also offer support and guidance to their clients during what can be an emotionally taxing and stressful time. This support can be instrumental in helping clients manage their feelings, cope with stress, and stay focused on achieving a positive outcome.  Family lawyers can provide recommendations for other professionals, including counsellors, financial advisors and support groups as required that can help you to move forward.

In many cases people think of lawyers as a last resort in family disputes, but the reality is that speaking to a lawyer earlier in the process is better. An experienced family lawyer can help to de-escalate a hostile situation, prevent lingering conflict, and ultimately ensure that an issue can be resolved as quickly and effectively as possible. For more information, contact the Family Law team at CDQ on ph: 02 8556 0130.