1. You’re too close to the action
Love, hate or any powerful emotion it’s very difficult to see the forest for the trees. A seasoned professional family lawyer can help you understand the indifferent way the justice system will see your matter so that the likelihood of arriving at a just outcome is enhanced. A lawyer can help you avoid the pitfalls associated with emotional outbursts you may be tempted to have too.
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. Having a lawyer may not be a matter of choice
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. Errors can be very expensive
Look at your lawyer as a walking, talking and wise insurance policy. Your legal fees are your insurance premiums and if you run into legal problems your lawyer will use his or her skills to get you back on track. If you aren’t ‘insured’ in this way, consider the potential costs. Just as in any area of life, whether or not to hire a lawyer is a matter of risk versus reward or cost versus benefit. Have a good think about what could possibly go wrong and make a decision based on that.
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.