If you are looking for a lawyer to help you through difficult divorce proceedings, it is important that you choose a family law accredited specialist to make sure you have the best legal representation possible.

In cases where the divorce is complex or especially bitter, you will need someone with the skills to achieve accreditation in order to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

How do lawyers get accredited?

In order to become a family law accredited specialist in NSW, a lawyer must have been practising law for at least five years, and worked in family law for at least three. They also have to pass a rigorous test, set by the Law Society of NSW, to ensure that they are sufficiently skilled.

The testing to become a certified specialist lawyer involves an examination of communication, problem solving and client relational skills, as well as expertise in the applicant’s chosen area of law.

Accredited specialists need to pass examinations every year in order to renew their certificate, so you know that their knowledge of family law is up to date. Checking accreditation is a good way to make sure that your lawyer is highly skilled.

What do I need an accredited specialist for?

Divorces that need especially skilled lawyers to handle them are ones where there is either a lot of money at stake or at least one of the divorcing couple is refusing to cooperate or negotiate reasonably. These two categories also overlap with surprising frequency – possibly because when there is a substantial estate to divide, it is more likely to be worth fighting over.

These cases are the most likely to need a clever legal team to unravel their intricacies, as the assets of the couple are likely to be set up in a tortuously complicated manner. In some cases a forensic accountant might even need to be brought in, to sort out where the money is and any tax implications.

A family law accredited specialist is likely to have seen similar cases before, given that they have to be experienced in order to gain certification. This means that they are the most likely solicitors to be able to help in such a complicated divorce.

If you think that asset negotiations are likely to be protracted, an accredited solicitor will also be the best person to help you, due to their skills and experience. They will get the best deal for you, and are the ideal people for talking your ex-partner into compromising in order to end a deadlock.

The fact that all certified specialists need to pass tests in client relations and communication means that they will always be able to explain to you what is going on with your case, and what the most likely outcome of your divorce proceedings will be.

A solicitor with an accreditation certificate will also be well placed to help you with difficult custody arrangements. They will have the experience and judgement to know what the outcome will probably be if the argument reaches a courtroom.

They will also be able to help you to gain approval for last minute emergencies and overseas trips. In a recent family court case, a father refused to bend his custody agreement to allow the mother to take her child overseas to visit her dying brother, and it took a court application for the child to be allowed to meet his overseas family.

If there is any possibility of your custody dispute becoming this bitter, or of a similar situation occurring, it is best to already have an experienced and skilful lawyer on your side. You will need someone with the connections built up over years of practice to speed the process along, and with the skills to make arguments to the court on short notice.

Finally, a certified family law specialist will be able to get you the best deal on spousal maintenance (whether you want to get more or pay less). Again, they will understand what the worst case scenario will be (i.e. what a court will order) and will use this as a negotiations bassline.

This also applies to child support, especially where there is a significant income disparity between the separating parties.

So if your divorce is especially complicated or bitter and you are looking for a good lawyer, finding a family law accredited specialist ensures that your solicitor will be experienced, highly skilled and very knowledgeable about legal matters.


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