Choosing a Family Lawyer isn’t always an easy process, and it can have a significant impact on how your family law matter is handled and resolved. Beyond reputation, personality, and years of experience, finding a family lawyer who is a good fit can also come down to their specialised skills. 

Obviously, all these factors influence a decision to engage with a legal practitioner, and things like online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations shape the opinion we form of a Family Lawyer.

A lawyer is very much like a teacher or doctor, with a knowledge of their field, but who often specialises in certain areas. Every family law practitioner will bring a different skill set and areas of specialty to the table. This may be due to additional qualifications, career experiences, accreditations, or other professional development. 

This article will look at different areas of practice and specialisations within Australia, with some practical information about what to consider when deciding who you want to work with.

Choosing the right type of family lawyer for your family law matter is crucial to ensure that your case is handled effectively and resolved in the best possible way. If your matter is complex, you may choose to engage Barristers for courtroom appearances or mediation.

Here's a breakdown of different types of family lawyers and their areas of expertise.

Accredited Family Law Specialist

Accredited family law specialists have demonstrated a high level of skill, expertise, and experience in family law. They have undergone rigorous training and assessment to achieve accreditation and provide specialised advice and representation in complex family law matters. 

Helpful for: Complex property settlements, parenting disputes, and high-conflict divorces.

St.John Heath, the principal of the firm, is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, and has been since 2013.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) 

ADR specialists help parties resolve disputes outside of court through methods such as mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. They facilitate constructive communication and help parties reach agreements that are fair and satisfactory to all. 

Helpful for: Resolving conflicts efficiently and cost-effectively without the need for lengthy court proceedings.

St. John Heath, the principal of the firm, is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, and has a commitment to Mediation and ADR.  He has been trained as a Mediator. St. John also sits on the Victorian Relationships Australia (Mediation center) Panel of Family Law Solicitors.


Barristers provide expert legal representation and advocacy in court proceedings. They specialise in presenting cases before Judges, ensuring that their clients' interests are effectively represented in court. We have a selection of Barristers that we use on a regular basis.

Helpful for: Presenting complex legal arguments and navigating court procedures in family law matters.

Collaborative Lawyers

Collaborative lawyers specialise in resolving family law disputes through collaboration and negotiation rather than litigation. They focus on finding mutually beneficial solutions for all parties involved. 

Helpful for: Amicable divorce proceedings and co-parenting agreements.

St.John Heath, Cassandra Rush and Ruby Heath of our firm are all trained Collaborative Lawyer.

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDR) 

FDR practitioners facilitate discussions and negotiations between parties to help them reach agreements on family law issues such as parenting arrangements, property settlements, and financial matters. 

Helpful for: Facilitating constructive dialogue and finding mutually acceptable solutions to family law disputes.

St.John Heath of our office is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, and a qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

Independent Children's Lawyers (ICL)

An ICL represents the best interests of children in family law proceedings. They ensure that children's voices are heard and advocate for their needs and welfare throughout the legal process. Where appropriate such lawyers are appointed by the Court when Court proceedings have commenced.

Helpful for: Protecting the rights and interests of children in complex family disputes.


Mediators act as neutral third parties to help parties in conflict reach mutually acceptable solutions and are not always legal practitioners. Many come from a social work or psychology background. They facilitate communication, identify common ground, and assist parties in resolving their disputes amicably. 

Helpful for: Resolving conflicts collaboratively, understanding family dynamics and preserving relationships in family law matters.

Family Lawyers With Areas Of Special Interest

Aside from family law practitioners who have additional qualifications, there are also many who have areas of special interest and extensive experience with certain types of cases. 

This can be very helpful if you are navigating an issue such as a divorce where parties live in different countries or cases that require a high level of knowledge in a particular area. Special interests can span many areas, such as domestic violence, LGBTQ+ rights, or indigenous family issues. 

These family lawyers will have in-depth knowledge and experience in their chosen field and provide tailored advice and support to clients, allowing them to effectively address unique legal needs and advocate for marginalised or underrepresented individuals and communities. 

Here are some of the areas of specialisation you may find family lawyers working in:

Adoption & Surrogacy

Adoption lawyers assist clients in navigating the legal requirements and procedures involved in the adoption process. They provide guidance and support to prospective adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted children to ensure a smooth and legally sound adoption process. 

Helpful for: Guiding families through the adoption process and ensuring compliance with adoption laws and regulations.

Children's Matters

Lawyers specialising in children's matters focus on legal issues related to parenting arrangements, child custody, visitation rights, and child support. They prioritise the best interests of the children involved and work to secure favourable outcomes for their clients. 

Helpful for: Protecting the rights and welfare of children and advocating for their best interests in family law proceedings.

Complex Property Splits Including Business Splits, Self-Managed Superannuation & Family Trusts

Lawyers specialising in property settlements handle complex financial matters related to divorce, including the division of assets, liabilities, Trusts, and business interests. They provide strategic advice and representation to ensure equitable property settlements for their clients. 

Helpful for: Navigating complex financial arrangements and ensuring fair and equitable distribution of assets in divorce proceedings.

International & Cross Borders Jurisdictions

International family lawyers specialise in cases involving cross-border issues such as international divorce, child abduction, relocation, and jurisdictional disputes. They navigate complex legal frameworks and international treaties to protect their client's rights and interests. 

Helpful for: Navigating complex international legal systems and ensuring compliance with international laws and treaties in family law matters.

Most of all, it’s important to find a family law specialist who you trust with your matter. If you have complex issues, ask your family law firm if they have someone with specialist knowledge in this area.

This is general information only. Please contact us for expert legal advice that takes your unique personal situation into account prior to making any decisions based on this article.