Like other lawyers, family/divorce lawyers completed a university law degree and further training before becoming admitted as lawyers/solicitors. Where family lawyers differ is what they do after that.
Family lawyers have specialised knowledge of and experience in the various legal issues that separating de facto and married couples and their families face. They have usually attained this high level of knowledge and skill by specialising in the practise of family law and working and studying in this area for many years.
They not only learn the law of divorce, property settlements, parenting arrangements and children’s issues, child support, spousal maintenance, domestic violence and child protection but also the mediation and court systems particular to the practise of family law. They regularly appear in Court and represent clients at mediations and other dispute resolution events.
Family lawyers need to understand how Centrelink, Child Support and the various other institutions separated couples have to navigate, operate. A sound understanding of property law, commercial law and taxation as it relates to family law settlements is essential.
An appreciation of mental health, addiction and domestic violence issues and an understanding of the effect of separation and divorce on children and the family unit must quickly be developed.
To assist clients to navigate the settlement process as successfully as possible and with the least damage to their family and finances, an understanding of the role played by other professionals including mental health experts, accountants and financial planners is required. Family lawyers regularly work closely alongside these aligned professionals.
Family lawyers need to be skilled at drafting legal documents and appearing in Court and settlement processes including mediation. They need to be able to listen, communicate, advocate, negotiate and empathise with their clients.
As you can see from this article, family lawyers are not ordinary lawyers.