Does the Internet Help or Hinder Family Law?

The Internet has changed life for all of us. We can learn almost anything on the Internet such as how to cook, garden, knit…even how to use crutches. The Internet is amazing, but it has its limitations. The most obvious examples are in medicine and the law. While you can learn a lot about your ailment or your legal situation on the Internet, nothing substitutes for the years of practice of a doctor or a lawyer.

So, does the Internet help or hinder family law? I believe the answer is that it does both.


On the positive side, I find that the Internet helps clients to be more involved in their case by way of gaining general knowledge about legal issues and the courts.  This means that clients can ask their lawyers better and more in-depth questions.  The result is a deeper conversation that can help clients to better understand the realities of their case.

The Internet is also good because it gives self-represented individuals information and access to the judicial system which was much more difficult to obtain prior to the widespread availability of online searching.


The number one negative is that the Internet is dangerous because search results can be misleading.  No one fact pattern or legal result in family law applies to every case.  So, just because you read or hear about someone who lost custody of their children, or another person who is getting a large amount of child and spousal support, it does not mean that you are going to lose custody or receive similarly large amounts of support.  This is the kind of perspective a lawyer provides. Lawyers don’t just know about the law; they understand the law’s impact on the specific facts and circumstances of each case.  If a case is being litigated, it is the knowledge of the lawyer and his or her experience with a particular judge that cannot be replaced by information found on the Internet.


Bottom line, the Internet is best used to gain basic knowledge about the law and the judicial system.  It gives individuals access to and information about a very complicated process.  However, one size does not fit all, meaning that if you rely solely on what you read on the Internet, significant damage – potentially irreparable damage – can be done to your legal case.  Every case is unique because it involves a human process based upon human events.  Every husband, wife, partner, child, job, house, asset and liability is different in each case.  Add the differences represented by each judge and each lawyer and you have proof enough that all of these variables are best managed by an experienced family law attorney who can help you to customize a strategy to your individual case.