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One Size Does Not Fit All – Finding The Right Family Law Approach

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By Amanda Humphreys, Senior Associate, MST Lawyers

In his blog, Klient Kulture (16 June 2017), Greg Tilse identifies “five most important family lawyer qualities according to client feedback”:

  1. Inspiring trust and confidence;
  2. Being responsive and available;
  3. Being a good communicator;
  4. Efficiency; and
  5. Having a personal connection, with empathy.

Browse online, and you will find family law practitioners promoting expertise in litigation, alternative and out-of-court approaches to family law, online services, after hours and Skype appointments, and unbundled legal services.  What is right for you?

MST Lawyers’ view is that a good family law team should have all of these qualities and offer all of these services.

Some couples can resolve matters between themselves, amicably and only require advice and assistance to formalise their agreement by way of a parenting plan, consent orders, a financial agreement and/or child support agreement.   In these situations, separating couples require expert legal advice as to their rights and the effect of the agreement they have reached with their former partner.  The documents reflecting their agreement need to be prepared with care, reflecting their family’s particular circumstances and needs, and ensuring their arrangement can be implemented effectively in the way they envisage.  In our opinion, proforma or template orders and agreements cannot achieve this outcome.

Other separating couples require assistance to negotiate or mediate an agreement. This can include

  • expert legal advice
  • help to obtain necessary information (for example, information about family finances),
  • assistance from skilled and effective mediators.

There are other clients who will require a strong advocate and court assistance.  While an amicable out of court settlement is an optimum outcome, in many cases court proceedings are necessary to protect a party and his or her interests, or to protect children.  At times, this requires working with urgency.  It is an important skill for family law professionals to be able to identify when litigation is necessary.

A family law matter that starts off with a collaborative, amicable negotiation, may later require decisive court intervention.  A matter that starts out with urgent litigation may ultimately be capable of resolution by agreement.

Good family lawyers offer all of this, recognising that no two families or family law matters is the same and there is no “one size fits all” approach. 

MST Lawyers’ Family Law team specialises in all areas of family law.  We have three accredited family law specialists and each of the lawyers in team practice exclusively in family law.  Our family law Principal, Belinda Spong, is a qualified mediator.  Amanda Humphreys (Senior Associate) has undertaken cross-border mediation training. 

Our family lawyers have established working relationships with our network of skilled experts – counsellors, psychologists, mediators, accountants, tax experts, financial planners, barristers and other specialist lawyers both in Australia and overseas.  We are also active members of the Association of Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), the Law Firm Network, and MiKK e.V. (International Mediation Centre for Family Conflict and Child Abduction), giving our clients access to professional services as required.

Drawing upon our expertise, external relationships and other specialist teams within MST Lawyers, including our Corporate and Commercial and Litigation teams, we provide a responsive, efficient and integrated service for our clients. Our approach is always to provide the right approach for our clients – whatever that might be.

For further information, please contact our Family Law team by email or call +61 3  8540 0200 . We happily arrange Skype and telephone appointments for our interstate and overseas clients, accommodating time differentials where required.