1. You’re too close to the action
In all areas of law, but particularly family law, high emotion can obscure sensible paths of action. Ask any senior family law practitioner and you will hear stories of people so blinded by hatred for their ex-spouses that they would prefer to spend every last cent ruining their former partner… often at the expense of the future financial security of their children.
2. Do you understand what is and isn’t evidence?
In Australia there is much legislation, case law and custom describing what is and is not evidence. If you think you can write down your entire story in an affidavit, swear it in front of a lawyer or Justice of the Peace and hand this up to the court with no dramas, you’re mistaken. Judges have been known to fly into rages when presented with incoherent and confusing material lacking in evidential value, and rightly so. Our justice system is expensive to maintain and overloaded so if you waste a judge’s time through your own ignorance of Australian rules of evidence, you are doing a disservice to the courts, yourself and Australia as a whole.
3. You may be legally required to have a lawyer
In the case of Binding Financial Agreements (such as prenuptial, cohabitation and separation agreements), the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that signatories to such agreements must seek independent legal advice before the agreement will be considered binding. This means that there is no way to avoid hiring a lawyer.
4. Making a mistake can cost you dearly
Mistakes can actually be more costly than your legal fees. In fact, that’s the whole idea… you pay your lawyer a fee to maximise your chances of ‘winning’ or in other words ‘ensuring your legal rights are protected’. If you go it alone and you walk face first into a legal trap, you may have saved a few thousand dollars in legal fees but cost yourself tens of thousands in the long run. This applies to family law just as to any other area of law.
5. A lawyer has legal experience
It is tempting to handle your own legal matter to save costs (which admittedly can be immense in some situations) but ultimately the costs – not just financial costs – of making a mistake can eclipse the legal fees you would have paid to avoid making that same mistake. Remember that the legal industry exists for a reason. We live in a society for a reason too… to make the most of the skills offered by others. None of us needs to be an expert in all things so remember that lawyers are there to help.