Why Won’t My Family Lawyer Give Me A Straight Answer?


A common misconception you may have when you engage a family lawyer is that they will give you the magical answer you are looking for. You hope that your family lawyer will be able to make the stressful and time-consuming separation go away. Unfortunately, there is no magical answer – Jack’s beans won’t grow you an escape route!

The law is complex and family law even more so. When applying the Family Law Act – the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, which presides over all contested family law matters, has vast discretion regarding the orders they may make in relation to any parenting or financial matters. This is a dual edged sword.

On the one hand, it allows the Court to take into consideration the particular facts and circumstances of a given couple or family.  On the other hand, the discretionary nature of family law means there’s no “one size fits all” solution.  Hence there’s no one or definitive answer which we can conveniently produce to you. 

So why can’t your lawyer give you a straight answer?

There isn’t one. Whilst a lawyer can tell you if what you are seeking is in the realm of possibility, they cannot tell you if what you are seeking will be the final outcome. It depends” is the response and this response is not unreasonable.  It depends not just on the range of variables that your matter contains but also on the attitude of your ex, whether they are being advised In a similar way, or your ex is driven by revenge etc, whether they are as ready as you to resolve the matter.

Leaving aside your ex and their unwillingness to settle, there remains the issue of the discretionary nature of the jurisdiction and the inherent complication of uncertainty.

For example, it is likely in your property matter that your lawyer will give you a range of your percentage entitlement as opposed to a specific number. Or you may ask if a certain arrangement for the children will be included in the final orders. The answer is – it depends on how your matter is negotiated and whether your ex is willing to reach such an agreement. As we’ve said, no one can predict how your ex will react, or indeed the specifics of the advice they receive. In short, no lawyer can tell you what the final outcome is until the ink is dry on the offer and acceptance and Financial Agreement, or the Court has stamped a set of orders.

What’s the point of going to a lawyer then?

Whilst we, as your lawyers, cannot give you the magic answer to resolve your matter, we can guide you through the maze that is family law with a focus on resolving your matter outside of Court whenever possible.  We can advise you on a range of possible outcomes, what offers to put and when, when a settlement is most likely to be considered, the benefits of mediation and timing of such mediation, what you can do differently to bring about resolution, what notions or ideas you need to let go of. The list of what a good family lawyer can do to assist is long.

We can work closely with you to better understand you, your specific circumstances, and the dynamics of your relationship in order to forge a pathway towards resolving your matter. The approach we take will be specifically based on your needs and designed to hopefully resolve your matter in as quick and time efficient manner as possible. This does not mean that we can give you the answers you are looking for, but rather that we can give you the information you require to consider your options, know your rights and entitlements, and where possible resolve your matter without the intervention of the Court.

Nguyet Cao, Lawyer and Caroline Counsel, Principal.

If you would like tailored and considered advice from a family lawyer, you can contact Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers on 03 9320 3900 or [email protected] to arrange an appointment.

The information in this blog does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by you. If you require advice specific to your situation you must contact Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers. The contents of this blog are relevant as at 17 November 2022. We recommend you obtain specific advice relevant to you and your family’s situation.

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