Dealing with family legal matters can be stressful and expensive. 

With the complexity of family matters, such as divorce and child custody, it is best to seek professional legal advice in making important decisions for you and your family. 

Choosing the right family lawyer can help you navigate the process, make wise legal negotiations and achieve the best outcome in the most timesaving, cost-minimising way. 

Why Hire a Family Lawyer 

With the way things work with the family law in Australia, you will need a family lawyer to guide you through the process. Although parties are encouraged to work out legal agreements and resolve issues privately without having to go to court, it’s a complex matter to deal with. 

Family lawyers are the experts when it comes to providing legal assistance specialising in family-centred issues. They have a better understanding of the law and thus, they can best present your case to your advantage while being sure to follow proper procedures – may it be through informal resolutions or, if inevitable, in court.

How Family Lawyers Charge

Knowing how and how much a family lawyer can charge you is important, especially if you are looking to hire one within a budget.

Legal Costs

You get charged for the following legal costs: professional costs and disbursements. 

  • Professional cost is what you pay for your lawyer’s time and expertise. Depending on the arrangement, it can be a fixed fee, an hourly fee or a ‘no win-no fee.’ 
  • Disbursements include expenses acquired on your behalf (e.g., printing and photocopying of paperwork, medical reports, court filing fees, etc.). 

Legal costs are commonly charged based on an hourly rate, especially when the case and amount of work make it impractical to provide a fixed rate. The more experienced your lawyer is, the higher their hourly rate will most likely be. 

The hourly fee structure is measured by units, in which there are 10 units in an hour (1 unit=6 minutes). For example, with an hourly rate of $300.00 ($30/unit), a 30-minute phone call appointment (5 units) will cost you $150.00.

Other fixed costs to consider are those that are out of your lawyer’s authority and are mandated by the Family Court of Australia and the Australian Government. Such costs include government and court fees if ever your case needs to go to court, that is.

Importance of Cost Disclosure

Your lawyer may also provide a written cost agreement, which you’ll have to sign. They are required to provide a cost disclosure if your case amounts to more than $750.00 before disbursements and taxes (GST). 

A cost disclosure is not charged and must have the following stated in it:

  • estimated cost and how it is computed, or 
  • fixed amount to be charged
  • information about your rights to:

– negotiate costs arrangement with your lawyer

– negotiate billing method

– get an itemised bill

– file a complaint to the LSC for any dispute regarding the costs

Take note that your family lawyer should give a cost disclosure before starting their work for you.

How Much Do Lawyers Charge in Australia? 

It varies, depending on how experienced the lawyer is, how complex your case will be and how much legal representation you will avail for. Some lawyers also charge an initial consultation fee starting at around $300. 

An average hourly rate begins at $250-$300. Less seasoned lawyers may start at as low as $50-$100 per hour, while high-skilled ones may charge an hourly rate of $650. The longer it takes for your family dispute to be resolved, the more your legal costs add up.

How to Choose a Family Lawyer

Here are 5 pointers to keep in mind for your search for a good family lawyer:

#1. Look for a lawyer focusing on family law.

Family law is a complex specialisation dealing with sensitive matters that need pragmatic solutions. You need the help of a professional who has an in-depth grasp of family laws and regulations. A lawyer specialising in family law can give you realistic and appropriate advice to reach an outcome with the least emotional and financial toll possible. 

#2. Get referrals.

If you have friends or relatives that can recommend a family lawyer, that would be a great starting point. Having someone you know recommend and vouch for a potential lawyer choice is encouraging. It’s a great plus that they have had a positive experience with that lawyer’s assistance. 

If none, you may do your research on the internet. Check for positive online reviews and reputable certifications that impress credibility. Make sure they offer the service and representation that fit your needs.

3. Evaluate relevant experience and history.

How long have they been in practice? Did they handle other similar cases? How many past cases were successful? You’re going to spend your money, so you don’t want to waste it. Prepare all the questions necessary to know about a lawyer’s experience and track record. You don’t have to settle with the first lawyer you find. Take advantage of firms that offer a 20-minute free consultation and online enquiries. 

4. Clarify fee structure, transparency and flexibility.

Don’t mistake bigger fees as a guarantee for ‘better’ or ‘faster’ delivery of outcome. As much as possible, work within your budget. Ask for a clear breakdown of your lawyer’s fee structure. Lay down the important questions about how they charge their clients (fixed or hourly), the range of costs and conditions that merit charging higher than the said range. 

Don’t hesitate in asking for clarifications. Transparency about the fees and the payment plan will give you peace of mind. Make sure to read and understand the terms before signing the cost agreement. Remember to ask for the cost agreement and disclosure in writing.

5. Subjective requirements matter, too

Do you get along well? Are you comfortable working with them? Having good compatibility with your family lawyer will make things easier for the both of you. A solid sense of trust and effective communication can help you advance your case. A good family lawyer maintains professionalism and mediates for his client’s interests strategically. It will benefit you more to have your lawyer be frank and ‘detached’ from your matters.

Is your family lawyer accessible? It is better to find a lawyer that is within reach may it be through emails, phone calls, and meetings. You would want to feel empowered and secure while you go through stressful matters. Hiring someone who’s located far from your area can be counterintuitive to the purpose of having a family lawyer.


Picking the right family lawyer plays a big role in the success of your case. A good family lawyer will give you an objective perspective, work with you within your budget and be sensitive to the emotional gravity of your situation. With these guidelines in mind, we hope you find the best family lawyer in Australia.