The Australian Government has just launched its artificial intelligence and family law dispute resolution website called AMICA, which was developed by National Legal Aid. Attorney-General Christian Porter says the tool will help people with working out their property settlements and parents can also develop parenting plans for their kids. The AI tool is designed to be used only by “relatively amicable” splitting couples, not those engaged in contentious disputes. But how helpful is this technology really?
The Government’s AI platform suggests how couples should divide assets by asking a series of questions about their circumstances and applying algorithms that take into account agreements reached by similar couples and court decisions on similar disputes. The idea is that the AI technology “foresees” how a human judge might rule on their circumstances, thereby assisting them to come to a resolution earlier and without the need to involve a real live judge.
Why artificial intelligence and family law?
National Legal Aid chairman Graham Hill said: “I estimate 20% of all family law disputes in Australia could, in the future, be resolved through online dispute resolution. This technology would save thousands of hours of court time.”
The impetus for having people turn to AI rather than hire lawyers or go to court is partly due to the congestion in the court system and partly due to the fact that many people can’t afford legal representation but don’t qualify for Legal Aid.
The understandable temptation to wind up your marriage as quickly and as cheaply as possible means that online family law services generally are gaining popularity around the world, including here. But trying to work out a property settlement without proper legal advice can have negative long-term consequences including the real danger of making bad choices and unwise settlements that have the potential to hit hard down the track.
Unrepresented individuals may not be aware of the implications and consequences of agreements they are considering making, lacking the assistance of a professional to explain the benefits and pitfalls of various options.
Alliance Family Law has been following the discussions on e-divorce with interest over the years. The goal of employing technology to reduce costs and time involved in resolving matters for consumers of family law services is worthy. Our firm too has implemented technological advancements to enable clients to register and fill out smart forms for simple family law matters; once complete they can be presented to us for advice or to seek support on some (or all) aspects.
Weighing up the costs
Initially, the Government was reported to have invested just $341,000 into the AI system but its actual costs has now been revealed to be $3 million. And while the beta version of the dispute resolution website is free to use until the end of 2020, thereafter a fee of $165 to $400 per couple will be charged. The Government says this is for maintenance and further development.
Splitting couples should consider how that cost compares to the cost of receiving expert legal advice from qualified human lawyers. Our firm’s principal solicitor Cristina Huesch notes, “Our experience suggests that amicable separations rarely involve significant costs.”
Using AI may be cheaper–but what’s the trade-off? Engaging family law professionals, even if you are in a cooperative phase with your ex, will ensure you end up with reasonable, enforceable agreements which will no doubt save you money in the long term. Even hiring a solicitor for partial services is a smart move (you might consider also looking into unbundling of legal services).
The fact is, in most cases, property settlements and parenting disputes really do require a human touch. And as the Government acknowledges by referring to “amicable couples”, this is essential when it comes to contentious disputes. As Cristina Huesch adds:
“Hostile separations, or separations where parties just cannot agree, will not be particularly assisted by AI. By definition, AI has to rely on logic which means the computer will more often than not ‘say no’ to proposed solutions in complex emotion-driven matters. Rarely are the difficult matters we deal with resolved with simple logic.”
Source: ZD Net
Do you need assistance with a family law matter? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.