Co-authored by: Isabel Strahan
KEY TAKE OUTS:
- The use of artificial intelligence is entering into the legal sphere, in particular Family Law.
- In practice, we have noticed a number of dangers and risks associated in using AI to generate property settlement orders.
- Artificial intelligence is NOT a substitute for independent, tailored legal advice.
There is a prominent rise in the use of artificial intelligence in everyday life. From voice assistants to facial recognition on your phone, 77% of all devices have some form of artificial intelligence. This influences the way we operate in everyday life, and the legal sphere has experienced vast changes with the introduction of this technology.
Artificial intelligence and websites like AMICA and ChatGPT have recently been used to formalise parenting arrangements and draft Consent Orders however as practitioners, we have noticed that these programs fail to acknowledge the numerous legal, ethical, and moral implications of its’ usage.
Despite being cheaper in the short term, the use of artificial intelligence as a replacement for legal advice could end up costing you more and doesn’t ensure that the outcome of the proceedings is in your best interest.
In this article, we will break down the potential dangers and consequences of using artificial intelligence in Family Law.
What is artificial intelligence and how is it being used in a legal setting?
To put it simply, artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. Through the collection and analysis of quantitative data, these programs believe that they can offer the same solutions as if a human had analysed the same data. This has inspired many entrepreneurs to create programs that intend to replace human involvement.
For example, AMICA is a website that is targeted to couples that have separated but remain amicable. As outlined in our previous blog ‘A Quick Guide to Separation’, when parties to a marriage or de facto relationship split, they are still required to finalise a property settlement, and if applicable, parenting arrangements.
The AMICA website asks you to answer certain questions about your relationship and attempts to draft an agreement formalising a pre-existing or agreed-upon plan. This can be very appealing as using the program doesn’t incur the same costs associated with seeing a family lawyer however, the outcome is heavily reliant on the amicability of the couple and does not provide advice on a ‘just and equitable split’. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the result would be in your best interest.
What are the dangers of using artificial intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence does not replace legal advice!
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has a goal of achieving a just and equitable outcome in all circumstances relating to property settlements. As practitioners our primary responsibility is owed to the Court in pursuit of their objectives therefore, we must ensure that all arrangements reached are ‘just and equitable’. In doing so, the parties have an obligation to provide full and frank financial disclosure. This process involves the exchange of bank statements, superannuation statements, loans, and disclosure of all assets and liabilities to determine the property pool. The use of AI eliminates this process and goes off blind trust that each person has disclosed all assets and liabilities. We stress the dangers associated with skipping this process and consider instances where parties have withheld lottery wins, million-dollar inheritances or billion-dollar debts which could affect the percentage split.
Whilst artificial intelligence relies on the analysis of quantitative data, in family law there is also a qualitative aspect that needs to be considered when discussing separation. For example, non-financial contributions such as renovations towards a property or any homemaker duties that are conducted must be considered when splitting property.
More importantly, we recognise that separation is a heavily emotional and confusing time for both parties involved. However, we stress the need to be aware of your legal rights and obligations. Artificial intelligence cannot provide the same level of advice or tailor the advice to suit individual’s circumstances.
Therefore, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to separation is to the detriment of its’ users.
What if the Court requisitions your AI Orders?
We have experienced an increasing number of families using artificial intelligence to draft Orders, who have then signed and filed those orders with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. On the basis that the property split is not ‘just and equitable’, the Orders are not enforceable, or the documents do not comply with the requirements of the Court, the parties may be issued with a requisition by the Court.
A requisition will list all the issues that need to be resolved for the Court to seal the Orders. Therefore, if you use AI to save costs and receive a requisition from the Court, you may need to seek legal advice later to address the Court’s concerns. Your Lawyer will then need to essentially start from step one in order to ensure a ‘just and equitable’ split. This could incur significant fees. In addition, this could put the amicable relationship of the parties at risk, and the agreement could fall through, leaving the parties to renegotiate.
We understand that the world of technology is fast paced and exciting. However, we note that AI is not adequately equipped to manage the interests of both parties to a family law matter, or the requirements and obligations owed to the Court. Every family and every family law matter is different and therefore, the Orders for one matter cannot be substituted and seamlessly work for another.
If you are wanting to seek legal advice relating to your rights and entitlements when negotiating a property settlement, our skilled Family Law team at Coutts would be happy to help. We ask that you contact our office to book in an initial consult with one of our experienced Family Lawyers who are dedicated to getting you the best, and fairest, possible outcome.
ABOUT LARA MENON:
Lara Menon joined the Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers team in August 2018, working within our Criminal and Family Law teams. Her swift advancement from Paralegal, Law Graduate, Lawyer, Senior Lawyer and most recently, Senior Associate in February 2022, is a testament to her astute legal skills and commitment to client service excellence.
Earlier in 2019, Lara was selected by the NSW Law Society to undertake an internship with the NSW Coroner’s Court, working as a Judge’s Associate for the Deputy State Coroner.
For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:
ABOUT ISABEL STRAHAN:
Isabel joined the Coutts team in January 2022, as a Paralegal working within our Family & Criminal teams. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in International Relations and Minoring in Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong. It is her dedication and hardworking nature that will see her go far within Coutts.
For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:
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This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.