Legal Fields of Specialisation: A Focus on Family Law

You’ve finally done it.

After years of intense study, many sleepless nights on assignments, and passing multiple, difficult examinations, you have completed your law degree or JD online postgraduate and are ready to start practicing law.

A Focus on Family Law

A law degree can set you up for a long, fulfilling career, but there are several different areas you can specialize in that will vastly change your overall career experience.

Some may be taken by the idea of corporate law, working for large businesses or firms.

Others may be keen on commercial law, working with companies that sell and purchase goods, products, and services.

Family law in Australia helps people resolve the legal aspects of family relationship issues, including breakdowns.

Family law offers a unique experience in the legal field that allows lawyers to work with some of the most vulnerable members of society to help generate positive, life-changing outcomes for them.

What Does Family Law Deal with?

Family Law is a broad field that offers a range of information and services to assist people going through family relationship issues.

Generally, people are encouraged to agree on arrangements without having to go to court.

Some issues that a lawyer in family law may deal with include:


In Australia, the divorce rate is approximately 2.2 divorces for every one thousand people, and the proportion of divorces involving children under 18 is 48%.

This can raise a multitude of issues including splitting finances, property, maintenance, and parenting arrangements for children.

While Australia has ‘no fault’ divorce – meaning the Court does not consider the reasons a marriage ended – when a separation or divorce arrangement cannot be met, a family lawyer may step in to assist with the division of assets and ensure the best outcome for children involved as well.

A family lawyer can assist with divorce proceedings.


Children of separated parents require a parenting arrangement to manage their ongoing care.

Decisions that need to be made include establishing a routine concerning their living situation, amount of time spent with each parent, where holidays will be spent, exposure to their culture, choice of school, sporting activities, religion, and health care.

What type of parenting arrangement is developed depends on how the two parties communicate:

  • If the two or more parties are on good terms and can communicate well, an informal arrangement may be put in place.
  • If two or more parties can create their parenting plan but wish to formalize it, it can be done by applying for consent orders to make it legally binding.
  • If the two or more parties cannot reach an agreement, a family lawyer may step in to provide advice on mediation or to help apply to the court for parenting orders. Parenting orders can be made through the court by consent (where all parties agree) or by the court after a trial or hearing.

Family Violence

Family violence is a serious concern that can affect everyone in a family unit.

It can occur before, during, or after a divorce or separation, and can impair an individual’s ability to make choices on intervention methods or even take part in court events.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia deals with allegations of family violence.

Examples of behaviors that constitute family violence include:

  • Physical, Verbal or Sexual Assault
  • Stalking
  • Intentionally damaging property
  • Intentionally causing death or harm to an animal
  • Denying a family member financial autonomy
  • Denying a family member of their liberty
  • Preventing a family member from making contact with their friends, family, or culture
  • Child abuse

A family lawyer may work with a client who is dealing with family violence by initiating law proceedings, representing them in court events, and helping achieve a settlement of the dispute through negotiation.

The Benefits of Working in Family Law

For many lawyers, there is a deep sense of satisfaction that comes with working in family law which is often lacking in other fields.

Some of the benefits of working in family law include:

Variety of Work

While family lawyers primarily deal with matters that relate to the family such as divorce, children, or issues of family violence, the work can extend beyond this.

Family law can often operate more like a general practice with a cross-over into property law, constitutional law, and even probate.

The broad range of issues covered can provide family lawyers with exposure to more subject matter, experience with different clientele, and variety in their day-to-day activities.

Career Satisfaction

People can find career satisfaction in many ways; money, peer, community recognition, or simply from doing what they feel is right.

Family law is unique in the world of law as it can easily offer all of these benefits, particularly when it comes to being of value to society and “doing good” – not something that always comes easily to those practicing law.

Family law can provide a strong sense of career satisfaction.

Easy Referrals

With the current divorce rate in Australia, the clientele for family lawyers never truly runs dry.

As long as a family lawyer is competent, people will come and engage in their services.

Additionally, after a lawyer has been engaged, family clients are likely to turn to them if they require other legal services, generating repeat clientele.

Is Family Law Right for You?

Family law offers a unique experience in the legal field.

While all areas of law encounter emotions, family law matters are often wrought with much more intense, complex emotions.

Despite working with heavy subject matter, making a difference in the lives of many struggling families is a reward unlikely to be replicated in other legal fields of specialization.

Family law can be a rewarding career path and should remain a strong contender for all lawyers entering the workforce for the first time and for those considering a shift in specialization.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

Leave a Reply

Search Programs