Understanding the Legal Information Experience of Non-Lawyers: Lessons from the Family Law Context

Jonathan Crowe, Rachael M Field, Lisa Toohey, Helen Partridge, Lynn McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Parties to legal disputes, now more than ever before, are able to access information about the law. This article reports on an empirical study of experiences in relation to accessing legal information in a family law context. A thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with people who rang the Australian Federal Government’s Family Relationships Advice Line indicated five key issues: first, parties struggle with the complexity of the information experience; secondly, parties have difficulty in assessing the credibility and reliability of sources of information and the information provided; thirdly, parties indicate clear source preferences; fourthly, parties have difficulty applying the information retrieved from various sources to their individual situation; and, finally, parties tend to use language that is no longer reflected in family law legislation or practice. These findings are discussed and analysed with reference to the specific voice of the study participants. The findings should assist government agencies, family dispute resolution providers and others to improve the ways legal information and advice on post-separation issues is provided. The findings are also applicable to other contexts of legal information provision
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Judicial Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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