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Family Law

E-Divorce

By September 6, 2017No Comments

Alliance Legal Services has been following the discussion on E-DIVORCE with interest. For some time we have been working on the development of smart forms that will enable potential clients to register and fill out forms for simple family law matters. Once complete they would be able to present them for advice, or seek support on some of the more complicated aspects. 

Our experience suggests that amicable separations rarely involve significant costs and that hostile separations, or separations where parties just cannot agree, will not be partuclarly assisted by artificial intelligence (AI). AI, by definition 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.

We also wonder whether a truly smart AI system can be built for the federal government’s proposed investment of $341,000; and would be interested in the supporting details of the estimate that “20% of all family law disputes in Australia could, in the future, be resolved through online dispute resolution”, and how that compares to the percentage of matters already resolved without the extensive involvement of lawyers. Are we just providing an online solution for matters already being dealt with amicably? 

We are in no doubt that reforms are needed in family law or that these reforms need to involve ways to dramatically reduce the costs of resolving complex and bitterly fought family law matters. This announcement does not progress this more important issue.

Tony Yoo from Business Insider Australia writes on 10 August 2017:

The federal government has granted $341,000 to National Legal Aid to investigate creating a system that could reduce the number of long and expensive divorce proceedings.

The scoping project will be managed by the South Australia Legal Services Commission.

NLA chairman Graham Hill said that artificial intelligence would be used to “deliver low-cost, user-friendly legal assistance to help separating couples identify their differences and work through them”.

“Family breakdowns are invariably awful and so too are the legal disputes that often follow them. Too often, these disputes prove to be too expensive, too time-consuming, too painful and too adversarial for all parties,” he 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.”

Australia currently sees more than 48,000 divorces processed each year.

Hill said an online service could be especially be useful for people in the “missing middle” that couldn’t afford expensive lawyers but didn’t qualify for legal aid. The agreed settlement out of the electronic process would be ratified at the end by the Family Court.

South Australia Legal Services Commission director Gabrielle Canny said artificial intelligence could help couples foresee how a human judge might rule on their circumstances, helping them come to a resolution earlier.

“Technology, including so-called ‘robot lawyers’, is not designed to replace lawyers and cannot resolve all types of family law disagreements. But it can empower couples to reduce the areas of dispute. That can only be a good thing.”

Last year, National Legal Aid hosted a forum with RMIT University on the possibility of an e-divorce system for Australia. Victorian Legal Aid managing director Bevan Warner said at the time the ODR system in the Netherlands showed positive results for all parties.

“The Dutch technology helps people deal comprehensively with their legal problem and encourages a mediated settlement rather than recourse to lawyers and courts. Agreements reached through collaboration tend to be more effective than decisions imposed by judges.”

(Original article https://www.businessinsider.com.au/e-divorce-how-artificial-intelligence-could-help-australian-couples-break-up-quickly-and-cheaply-2017-8)

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.

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