Family lawyers are charged with exacerbating family law disputes and making them adversarial and embittered. Indeed, the various reports that have informed the recent family law reforms consistently cite anecdotal evidence that suggests that ‘the animosity that adversarial legal proceedings create between separated parents’ is created in the main by the ‘adversarial behaviour of lawyers working in the system’. Yet, nowhere in these reports, or anywhere else, is there empirical research evidence that confirms the veracity of these claims; rather there is strong qualitative evidence to suggest that family lawyers are constructive and conciliatory in their approach to resolving family law disputes. The qualitative evidence suggests that as well as negotiating a resolution to their clients’ disputes, family lawyers provide support and reassurance to their clients, help reduce the tension and stress involved in family disputes by providing an effective channel of communication for them with their former partners or even third parties, and guide, support and educate their clients through the divorce transition process. Further, and most importantly, the evidence suggests that family lawyers emphasise settlement.
"Family law: the lawyer–client relationship, procedural justice and the dispute resolution process,"
ADR Bulletin: Vol. 10
, Article 6.
Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/adr/vol10/iss2/6