Artificial Intelligence, commonly known as ‘AI’, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to its ease of use and ability to mimic human intelligence. In this article, we explore the benefits, risks and legal implications of AI in family law.

Perhaps the most notable example of AI has been the emergence of ‘AI Chatbots’ such as ChatGPT. Like any new technology, AI poses both risks and opportunities and while there has been a steady uptake in the use of this technology across many different industries, the jury is still out on how it will impact areas of the legal professional that rely heavily on human connection, in particular family law.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In its simplest form, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science focused on building smart machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Generally, it is provided through computerised platforms and systems aimed at mimicking human cognitive functions such as problem-solving, learning, reasoning, perception, and decision-making. An example of this is an AI Chabot, such as ChatGPT, which uses artificial intelligence techniques to engage in text-based or voice-based conversations with users, in order to solve a problem or answer a question.

But what does this mean for the legal field, and family law in particular?   

Benefits of AI in family law

There are a number of ways in which AI could prove beneficial in the legal profession – the first being access to information. It has the potential to break down barriers when accessing legal resources, making it easier for individuals to navigate the legal system more effectively.

AI Chatbots are designed to provide general information on a wide range of topics, typically using very clear and simple language, therefore making it easier for the user to understand difficult legal processes and topics.  

If you’re considering using ChatGPT to help you with your family law case, you could ask it questions such as the below, to gain a better understanding of the legal process and make more informed decisions:

  • What is required to file a divorce?
  • What steps are involved in people working out a property settlement?
  • Do I need a lawyer in my family law case?
  • What does the Court consider when making orders relating to children?
  • Where can I find a lawyer to help me in my family law matter?

For legal professionals, there are many ways in which AI may prove to be a beneficial tool in the future. This could include assisting with streamlining tasks including scanning and searching large databases of information or reviewing, drafting and editing complex and length documentation; thereby saving time and potential costs associated with a matter.

However, AI should not be considered as a substitute for legal advice as there are tasks that AI would not be able to perform such as creating legal documents or providing legal advice and which requires proper consideration be given to numerous variables. It is important to remember that if you are seeking legal advice, you should always speak with an experienced Family Lawyer.

While AI may be used to generate a simple guide of the processes/steps involved in undergoing a separation, property/financial settlement or custody dispute, it is no substitute for the human touch, particularly given the complex emotions that are often involved with family law matters.

Limitations and risks of AI in family law

Given that the information provided by AI Chatbots is often only general in nature, relying solely on AI can lead to inadequate answers and support. It doesn’t take into account individual circumstances and the nuances involved in a family law matter, which could lead to false or inaccurate information being provided. Even though AI Chatbots contain disclaimers that their information is not entirely accurate or up-to-date, at the end of the day, it is still just a machine and does not have the qualifications or expertise to practice law.

It is important to speak to an experienced family lawyer to discuss your matter in more detail, so that you can be assured you’re getting the right advice, tailored to your individual circumstances.

Another risk to bear in mind is when accessing AI or a Chatbot, is that you are using these systems and software on a public forum, or a third-party website or company; meaning the confidentiality of the information can pose a problem. You should not input any personal details such as:

  • Your full name, address, and contact details
  • Any personal documents including birth certificates, marriage certificates, applications, court documents, letters, correspondence with a professional or company.
  • Photos of yourself or others
  • Your current location
  • Bank account details
  • Another person(s) or company’s personal information

Family law matters often involve highly personal and sensitive information. If you decide to provide the above information, your privacy or security may be invaded as well as carry legal implications regarding confidentiality.

AI in family law: are we there yet?

Although AI is becoming increasingly popular in our modern society, it is still in its infancy. There may be merit in its ability to comprehend, generate, and supply information, but there must be caution as to its’ accuracy, relevance and transparency within the legal world. It is crucial to acknowledge that although it provides a convenient and simple overview of legal issues, it cannot be used as a substitute for legal advice. The bottom line is that you should always proceed with caution and consult with a family lawyer before making any decisions.

If you are wanting legal advice or need help navigating your family law matter, we encourage you to contact Ivy Law Group’s experienced family lawyers today on (02) 9262 4003 for a no-obligation consultation or submit an online enquiry. 

The content of this article is intended as a general guide to the subject matter. For specific legal advice about your individual circumstances, please contact our experienced lawyers.

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