When a marital or de-facto relationship breaks down, it’s understandably a highly emotional and stressful time for both parties. When issues like infidelity, domestic abuse and drug addiction get thrown into the mix, these issues can become particularly vitriolic and set former partners against one another which will play into future legal proceedings.

Because the legal issues of divorce, property settlement and child custody are commonly present following a relationship breakdown, most people will need to engage the services of a professional family lawyer to assist them. This kind of legal expert will assist their clients by giving them legal counsel and representing their interests in a courtroom setting.

Naturally, family lawyers come in all different shapes and sizes with each having their own unique characteristics. With that said, there are some core traits that are essential for them to have in order for them to be effective in helping you through this delicate and emotionally stressful legal circumstance.

Let’s take a look at the top 3 traits a good family lawyer needs to possess.

1. Compassion

First of all, your family lawyer needs to be compassionate and be able to sympathise with you about what you’re going through. They know all to well that their clients are going to be emotionally stressed and agitated during this process, so they do their best to create a comforting and relaxing environment during their consultation.

Being able to sync with your emotional state of mind allows your divorce solicitor to more closely represent your sincere interests – except with the legal know-how to secure a favourable outcome. For example, if gaining custody of your children is really important to you then your representative should be able to communicate that to a judge if needed.

2. Negotiation skills

A good family lawyer will also have training in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is an advanced negotiation tool used often in child custody and property settlement disputes. This means they will be a master at enabling compromises that leave both parties satisfied rather than trying to ‘defeat’ the opposing faction.

This approach to these kinds of legal issues is favoured by judges and the court system because it means that more disputes can be settled behind closed doors and without the need for a lengthy, costly and emotionally stressful court battle. Because there are already long waiting lists to have matters like child custody disputes heard in a courtroom, the legal system requires all disputing parties to prove they made a sincere attempt at ADR prior to applying for court proceedings.

As such, family lawyers are expected to take an approach that is focused around negotiation and solving issues amicably rather than in an adversarial way. A good solicitor will try to help you see how its impractical to go after your ex in a malicious way rather than play up your animosity or feed into your selfish thinking patterns.

3.  A focus on the welfare of children

Because issues like divorce often leave children in the crossfire, a good family lawyer will undoubtedly seek to put the welfare of children above all other concerns. This usually means helping to negotiation a parenting arrangement that both parties can agree to and will give the children adequate time with each of their parents.

A good solicitor will never encourage you to attempt to manipulate your child by turning them against the other parents or making them give false testimony. Not only are both these tactics unethical and damaging to your children, a judge will look at you very unfavourably if they think you are engaging in either or both.