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        • Socials:

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What do Family Lawyers do?

Published on November 15, 2023

    Sophie Booth Family Lawyer

    About the Author

    Sophie Booth

    Sophie’s primary reason for engaging with the Juris Doctor Degree was to provide pragmatic solutions for the community during vulnerable and uncertain points in their lives. Sophie has been working in the legal services field since 2018, and has exclusively worked in Family Law since 2020.

    Sophie’s primary reason for engaging with the Juris Doctor Degree was to provide pragmatic solutio... Read More

    Sophie Booth Family Lawyer

    Sophie Booth - Family Lawyer

    Sophie Booth is a passionate family lawyer based in Sydney. During Sophie’s time in family law, she has been able to gain valuable skills in drafting documents for Court, connecting with clients, and conducting legal research for matters before the Federal Circuit Court, Family Court and Supreme Court of New South Wales. This experience has allowed Sophie to create close relationships with clients, understanding that every family law issue is complex and presents a unique set of circumstances.

    Key Takeaways:

    • The Australian family law system aims to support families going through relationship breakdowns by providing guidelines and options for resolving disputes regarding property, parenting, financial matters, domestic violence, adoption, and more.
    • The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, formed by the merger of the two courts, play a crucial role in assisting people with family law matters and making decisions based on the best interests of the child and just and equitable outcomes.
    • While court involvement is sometimes necessary, family law in Australia encourages alternative dispute resolution methods such as private agreements, negotiation, and mediation to reach mutually acceptable solutions outside of court.
    • Working with a family lawyer can provide numerous benefits, including gaining a deeper understanding of your family law matter, exploring available options, saving time and money, and ensuring you have the necessary support and guidance throughout the process.
    • Additional tips for navigating the family law process include staying organised and maintaining records, educating yourself about the system, clear and respectful communication, self-care, and seeking help and support when needed.

    These types of matters fall under the system of family law in Australia and are often referred to as family law matters. Some legal factors under the Australian family law system need to be considered when deciding the outcome of these types of matters.

    For some people, working out what you’re going to do can be easy, however, for many people, this already difficult time is made even worse because they cannot come to any type of agreement with their former spouse.

    In addition to already needing to consider factors that fall under the family law system, if you’re unable to come to an agreement (or you have but you want to make it legally binding) you may need to get involved in some legal processes too.

    But where do you start? Being involved in a family law matter can be very overwhelming and complex, leaving you feeling confused. That’s what we’re here to help you with. In this article, we’ve put together information to make navigating the Australian family law system easier. Keep reading to learn more about family law in Australia and how to make your way through its processes.

    How to navigate the family law process

    Australia’s family law system provides people with guidelines and numerous options to help them resolve family-related issues and come to a resolution that works for them. While this flexibility allows many to people to craft solutions that are really tailored to their unique situation, it can leave others confused along the way.

    To make navigating the system easier we have answered some of the most important questions about family law in Australia that we as family lawyers are asked and we’ve included some tips on how to make dealing with a family law matter easier.

    What is the purpose of the Australian family law system?

    The purpose of the family law system in Australia is to provide support for Australian families, particularly in situations where there has been a breakdown in the family relationship.

    Though you may feel like your family relationship is between you and your partner and/or children, there are legal aspects of family relationships, and disputes can arise. Disputes such as how you will divide your assets and where your children will live are two very common ones.

    Family law in Australia has guidelines to help make resolving these disputes easy and safe, highlighting certain factors that should be taken into consideration in the process. The system also provides a variety of different options for people to resolve their disputes and encourages people to attempt to resolve them outside of the Court.

    The Family Law Act 1975 provides the legislative guidelines for family law in Australia, and also gives the Court powers to be able to make decisions regarding matters of parental responsibility, children’s living arrangements, financial support, and the division of assets.

    What kinds of matters fall under family law in Australia?

    Primarily, the Australian family law system helps to resolve issues relating to families and usually these issues stem from the breakdown of a relationship. Some of these issues include:


    This includes the process of legally ending a marriage, and as a result of the divorce other factors need to be considered, like the division of property, parenting arrangements, and financial matters like spousal support.

    De Facto Relationship Separation

    A de facto separation can be similar to a divorce and require property settlements, parenting matters and financial matters. Though the matters that need to be resolved are similar, there is no formal process to “legally separate”.

    Property Settlement

    This involves working out how to divide assets, liabilities, and property of the parties involved. This can include property and assets like real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, inheritances, superannuation and business interests.

    Parenting Matters

    Working out child custody and parenting arrangements including deciding where children will live and the time they will spend with each parent after separation or divorce is one of the most important matters. It is also one that can be very contentious and emotional.

    Financial Matters

    Commonly the key financial matters that may need to be resolved include child support and spousal maintenance. Parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children, known as child support. In some circumstances, financial support from one spouse to another may be required – this is known as spousal maintenance.

    Family and Domestic Violence Orders

    Victims of domestic and family violence may be able to seek legal remedies and protection from the perpetrators. These protections include intervention orders, restraining orders, or other measures to ensure safety.

    Adoption and surrogacy

    Facilitating legal processes related to adopting a child or entering into surrogacy arrangements, including parental rights, consent, and legal obligations fall under Australian family law.

    Same-sex relationship matters

    While the marriage and divorce processes for same sex couples are identical to heterosexual couples, it’s important to note that the family law in Australia also covers resolving matters like parenting arrangements, adoption, and property settlements for same sex couples too.

    What does the Family Court do?

    The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’s role is to assist people going through family law matters in resolving the matters efficiently.

    The Court deals with all kinds of family law matters, including those we’ve listed above. The Court process involves each party providing relevant information to their matters, including evidence and options for how they would like to move forward from their perspective. The Court will make a decision on a matter once they have heard all relevant information.

    The Court makes decisions based on key principles of the family law legislation:

    • For parenting matters and matters involving children, decisions will be made that based on the best interests of the child, and this includes the child having a meaningful relationship with their parents and their safety.
    • For financial and property matters, decisions are made so that they are just and equitable. These decisions usually include taking into consideration the factors affecting the situation now and those that may affect it in the future too.

    Decisions made by the Court are Court Orders that are legally binding. It is possible to appeal these decisions, however, before doing so, it’s highly recommended that you seek legal advice.

    Do all family law matters have to be resolved in the Court?

    No. In fact, the system of family law in Australia has been designed to encourage people to resolve disputes outside of the court system where possible and court is usually seen as a last resort when other dispute resolution matters have been exhausted.

    There are some processes where you may be required to go to court, such as getting a divorce when you have children under the age of 18, to formalise parenting or financial agreements or when a matter is particularly urgent.

    How can family law matters be resolved?

    Resolving a family law matter can happen in many different ways, and for many people, they manage to do so outside of court successfully. Here are some of the most common ways matters are resolved:

    Private agreements

    This is when the parties involved in the matter work out an agreement between them, usually without any other parties being involved. People end their relationships for a wide range of reasons and in some instances, it’s easy for people to agree on how they would like to move forward. All sorts of matters, including financial, property and parenting-related matters can be sorted out this way.

    When matters are agreed upon between the parties they can be kept as informal agreements, or they can be made legally binding through a binding financial agreement or by applying for consent orders.

    To be able to formalise the agreements through a binding financial agreement, this will require legal advice and while it’s possible to apply for consent orders without a lawyer, it’s recommended to discuss the proposed agreement with a family lawyer to ensure you have all of the right information in your application and to ensure that the agreement is fair.

    While you may trust your former partner to stick to your agreement, seeking legal advice and formalising agreements is a safety protection for both parties.


    Negotiation is common practice when it comes to resolving family law matters. Negotiation can be conducted between the two parties to discuss their personal preferences and work through their differences. It can also be conducted with legal representation or even between the lawyers of the parties.

    There is no right or wrong answer, and the agreements made in the negotiations can either be informal or made formal as above.


    Mediation involves the parties coming together to discuss their disputes and differences with an impartial third party. The third-party mediator cannot make legal decisions but is there to facilitate the discussion.

    Mediation can also include lawyers or can be done without them – this again, depends on the circumstances of your situation. Mediation can also be used to resolve a wide variety of family law issues. It is also often required before you can apply to the Court to resolve your matter.

    Going to Court

    The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia can also help to resolve family law disputes, however, in most circumstances, parties will need to attempt other means of dispute resolution, like mediation, before they can apply to court to have their matter resolved.

    Going to court can be a lengthy process, expensive and stressful, which is why family law in Australia encourages other methods of dispute resolution.

    When it comes to resolving your matters, the factors that the court uses to determine the outcome of a dispute, like the best interests of the child and whether it a decision is just and equitable for each party, are still the key driving factors that need to be considered when resolving your matter.

    What does a family lawyer do?

    A family lawyer is a legal expert who understands the family law system in Australia and the requirements individuals must meet to adhere to the law and resolve disputes.

    The role of a family lawyer is extremely multifaceted and can include:

    • Providing legal advice and guidance
    • Preparing documentation and applications
    • Negotiation and mediation
    • Representation in court

    These services are able to be performed for any kind of family law matter, including those we listed earlier, like divorce, property settlements and domestic violence matters.

    When do you need a family lawyer?

    A family lawyer provides support at any point of your family law matter.

    For some people, from the time they decide that they want to separate is the best time to work with a family lawyer, while for others the best time may be when they have already made an agreement with their former partner and they wish to formalise it or ensure that it is fair.

    You can also simply work with a lawyer to have them answer some questions and offer some advice or they can work closely with you until your matter is fully resolved.

    The family law system is difficult to understand and usually when you’re involved in a family law matter, you’re going through an emotionally stressful issue. That’s why we recommend seeking legal advice as early as you can. Our aim as a family lawyer is to help you find the right solution in the most efficient way, and one that works for your whole family.

    We use our years of experience and understanding of the law, along with the information you’ve provided to find the right solution for you.

    We can’t tell you the exact right time to work with a family lawyer, but we encourage talking to one to see what is right for you.

    What are the benefits of working with a family lawyer?

    There are numerous benefits that come from working with a lawyer, here are some of them:

    You can truly understand your family law matter. These matters can be complicated and no one expects you to be an expert and know exactly what to do.

    You can understand your options. Matters can be resolved in all kinds of ways and we can help find a solution that works for all parties. We know the law and we have experience on our side to help us do this.

    You can save time. Family law matters are rarely solved fast, especially without our help. Everyone has different preferences and knowledge; however, we can provide information to make the process faster as well as ensure you have the right information when making applications and agreements.

    You can save money. While our services do cost money, they are often more cost-effective than you may realise. Not only do we help you resolve your matters more efficiently, but we also help to ensure you’re not missing out on what you’re entitled to either.

    How to choose the right lawyer for you

    Deciding to work with a family lawyer to resolve your matter is one thing, deciding on the right lawyer is another.

    When it comes to choosing a family lawyer, you want someone who is experienced, specialises in family law and who you feel comfortable with as well.

    Family law matters involve a lot of personal information and being able to talk to someone you feel like you can trust and divulge information to is very important.

    We put together a guide of how to choose to a family lawyer, including the qualities to look for. You can read our guide here.

    Other tips for making family law processes easier

    Here are some of our tried and tested tips for making navigating the family law process easier:

    • Be organised and keep records. You will likely need to provide documents, information and evidence to resolve your matter. Ensure you have as much information as possible.
    • Educate yourself. While you’re not expected to brush up on family law in Australia in the same way as a family law professional, it’s a good idea to gather as much information about what may be required of you. This is when talking to a family lawyer can be helpful.
    • Communicate clearly and thoroughly. Ensure that you maintain open and respectful communication with all parties involved in your matter.
    • Take care of yourself. Being involved in legal matters is often stressful because it’s not an everyday occurrence for most people. It’s important to take time out to care for yourself.
    • Don’t be afraid of asking for or accepting help. Help can come in many forms, whether it’s legal advice and support, talking to a trusted friend, working with a counsellor or joining a support group. Here is a list of some helpful resources that may be able to help you.

    Let us help you

    Navigating family law processes and matters is what we do here at Unified Lawyers. We help people from all over Australia to understand and resolve their family law matters and we can help you from before you separate all the way through representing you in court.

    Our experienced family law team understands how family law matters can be stressful and overwhelming and we use our many years of experience to customise a solution that is best for you and your family.

    Don’t get lost in the family law system, talk to us today. You can get in touch with us by calling us on 1300 667 461 or booking a consultation online using the button below.

    Sophie Booth Family Lawyer

    Sophie Booth - Family Lawyer

    Sophie Booth is a passionate family lawyer based in Sydney. During Sophie’s time in family law, she has been able to gain valuable skills in drafting documents for Court, connecting with clients, and conducting legal research for matters before the Federal Circuit Court, Family Court and Supreme Court of New South Wales. This experience has allowed Sophie to create close relationships with clients, understanding that every family law issue is complex and presents a unique set of circumstances.

    “All materials throughout this entire website has been prepared by Unified Lawyers for informational purposes only. All materials throughout this entire website are not legal advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice. We do not guarantee that any of the information on this website is current or correct.
    You should seek specialist legal advice or other professional advice about your specific circumstances.
    All information on this site is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship between you and Unified lawyers.
    Information on this site is not updated regularly and so may not be up to date.”

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