Family law is a unique experience in the legal field. While all areas of law encounter emotions, family law matters are challenged with much more complex emotions. Divorce is considered to be one of the most stressful events that can happen in a person’s life. It is these emotions that can cause parties to incur higher costs: if a letter is sent by one party, a response is likely required from the other party. High costs are a significant concern in family law, especially because they can be disproportionate to the size of the property pool involved in the matter. Along with high costs, family law also experiences issues of backlogs and delays in the courts. It is largely these elements that drive many parties to engage limited or no legal assistance when navigating matters involving family breakdown.
These observations pose the question, how family law services can be improved? The role of technology in society has developed at a rapid place, which has forced legal practitioners to adopt different modes of technology into their practices to remain current with innovation. Technology has assisted many people to reach property settlements and custody agreements without the need to engage legal practitioners, which eliminates the need to pay considerable legal costs. However, the average person is not likely to have much, if any, legal knowledge and will require guidance on how to come to a settlement.
Software is being used in family law for both property settlements and parenting agreements. These tools are being adopted into the practice of family law throughout Australia to improve how services are provided to clients, but no software comes without its limitations. Most software adopts an artificial intelligence tool to suggest how the relationship’s assets should be split by taking in to account a number of different factors programmed into the tool.
The most significant limitation of these tools is that they are only intended to be used by couples whose separation is amicable enough that they do not require additional parties to assist in negotiations. The software is only capable of providing relatively simple responses from the information provided by the users. Additionally, the tools are not designed to take into account the more nuanced issues involved in family law, ie, it is not capable of comprehending what is best for a child when determining custody arrangements.
The general consensus when assessing technology in family law is that technology is not able to replace the role of a legal practitioner; technology is not able to replace the intuition of a family law practitioner. Family law is centered around the client and their experience, the matter on hand is determining how their life will look moving forward from the breakdown of their family. A piece of software, while intelligent enough to divide a property pool through assessing relevant input, cannot possibly replace the intuition of a family law practitioner. Until technology has been developed to the point that it can seamlessly imitate the mannerisms of an ordinary person, technology will only be able to be used as an support mechanism.
At McNamara Law we have embraced the use of technology to improve the client experience during an incredibly stressful and at times traumatic stage of their lives. Technology is providing new innovation for how legal services may be delivered that are considerably more efficient and as a result are lowering the costs of running family law matters. If the legal profession is able to effectively embrace technology there is the potential for significant, positive changes to occur.
We are recognised as experienced, effective and efficient family lawyers, and offer a free consultation upfront to discuss your family law matter in order to canvass your best options and look at the likely costs of any proposed action. Call us today on 1300 285 888 for further information.
Information from a capstone paper on “The Regulation of Technology Providing Access to Justice in Family Law”