If you are thinking about representing yourself in the Australian Family Court or Federal Magistrates’ Court then this report should be part of your required reading.
It is important to understand how the other party’s representatives, barrister and/or solicitor will view you as a self represented litigant.
In 2001, the New South Wales Bar Association became so concerned about the rise in the number of self-litigants it prepared this report, Guidelines for barristers on dealing with self-represented litigants in order to reduce the stress of dealing with litigants in person and to provide clear parameters within which barristers should work.
The use of the word ‘dealing’ signifies the attitude of the legal profession towards the self-represented litigant – dismay, disdain, and perhaps dread for it makes their job so much more difficult as the self-rep is not likely to follow their laid down procedures or accede to their expections. A leading barrister Graeme Page echoing the previous Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alastair Nicholson said, a number of years ago, that he thought men had “unrealistic expectations” in regards to the care of their children.
MRA since its inception in 1994 recognised that progress would not be achieved if fathers blindly accepted the standard recipe dished out to them i.e. every second weekend and half the school holidays. Chidlren deserve to have both parents fully involved in their upbringing and fathers are entitled to feel they are valued as a fully involved parent with views and opinoins about what is best for their children. MRA has pushed for shared care – there is nothing unrealistic about that demand.
The Report was prepared by Brian Knox and the Family Law Committee.