Can You Represent Yourself in a Family Court in Australia?

spouse in family court

The most common cases that are heard in a family court here in Australia are divorce, child custody, and domestic abuse. As you can imagine, these are complex and intricate matters that require plenty of detail and some harrowing information. Here we are not going to focus on the content of those cases or indeed the cases at all, but rather representation. The question that many ask is whether or not a family lawyer is required for anyone who is going through one of these situations. Family lawyers are of course experts in this field, but are they absolutely necessary? Let’s take a look.

Simply Put

We will begin by answering the questions straight up, there is absolutely no obligation for anyone to hire a family law specialist to represent them in the courtroom. In fact, the law even states that you are more than entitled to represent yourself should you so wish. Whether or not this is a good idea is another matter entirely, but representing yourself is absolutely fine if this is what you want to do.


There are some details that you need to understand regarding family law. For example in the case of child custody, you would be able to represent yourself. With this being said, prior to the case even reaching court it is necessary that both parties have tried to resolve the dispute via an FRD (Family Dispute Resolution). In order to go through this step legal experts are required to be involved. Assuming that the case cannot be resolved in this way, it will go to the court where you can represent yourself.

Is It a Good Idea?

We are not here to give advice of course, yet we can offer a statistic that may make you think twice about representing yourself in court. On average, some 70% of cases are lost when the individual decides to represent themselves. This is something of a damning assessment of just how difficult it is to actually be your own legal representative. Now in the case of family law cases, the reason why this is so challenging is that they are so often emotionally charged. Defending yourself against an assault claim, for example, is very different from fighting for custody of your child. This is why in the cases of family law so many would avoid such a situation.

What You Will Get From Family Lawyers

Should you decide to use a family lawyer then you will of course have to spend more money than if you were to take on the case yourself. With this being said you are going to get so much in return for that investment. For lawyers, this is their bread and butter and as such, they will be able to significantly expedite the process. Using contacts, experience, and knowledge, you ultimately have a better chance of winning. Beyond this, however, you will be able to count on not just legal support, but emotional support too. This will be vital during such testing times.

The answer, therefore, is that you can certainly represent yourself in a family court. Whether you should, is a decision you will have to make.

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