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Navigating the depths of family law

Family law matters are often considered the most emotionally charged and contentious legal situations individuals can encounter. Here, Sonia Haidamous highlights how it is crucial for lawyers specialising in this area to serve as strong advocates, guiding their clients through these challenging and vulnerable times.

user iconGrace Robbie 09 April 2024 Big Law
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Sonia Haidamous is an associate specialising in commercial litigation and family law at SLF Lawyers. She offers counsel on a wide range of family law issues, from navigating complex financial asset pools to crafting custody arrangements.

Haidamous also won the family law category at the recent Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 Awards and was a finalist for the same category in 2023.

In a conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Haidamous shed light on the significant and deeply personal matters she handles for her clients, emphasising the importance of prioritising the pursuit of justice above all else.


“As a family lawyer, you frequently encounter serious accusations of family violence from one party, which are subsequently contested by the other party.

“As legal professionals, we encounter challenging scenarios where our aim is to facilitate the pursuit of justice rather than the manipulation of the legal system. In my view, it is important not to lose sight of this,” Haidamous commented.

However, Haidamous pointed out instances where the legal system is manipulated to secure the desired outcome for one party, often through the “employ tactics of financial and emotional abuse during family law proceedings”.

Haidamous stated: “These actions may sometimes be masked as the legitimate use of the legal system but are aimed at inflicting additional stress and pressure on victims through tactics like lack of financial disclosure during property matters or the making of vexatious claims by one party against the other in parenting disputes.”

She also highlighted another significant challenge, underscoring that despite the abundance of family law practices, “a majority of vulnerable families [still] face limited access to justice, encounter inadequate responses to reports of family violence and are victims of tactics of financial and emotional abuse”.

Given the challenges evident within the family legal space, Haidamous emphasised the importance for practitioners to “offer sincere and candid advice rather than simply echoing your client’s wishes” to navigate these matters effectively.

Haidamous also expressed that while the court system is necessary for certain matters, it is crucial for family lawyers to offer “realistic legal guidance” to encourage and empower their clients to explore alternative dispute resolution methods.

Providing these alternative methods is crucial, as Haidamous revealed they “often foster constructive dialogue, enabling parties to make settlement offers grounded in realistic expectations, and in turn increasing the likelihood of achieving satisfactory outcomes outside of court”.

“It emphasises the role of legal professionals in guiding clients towards pragmatic solutions that prioritise their best interests while also promoting the efficient resolution of disputes,” Haidamous stated.

She also offered valuable advice to young lawyers aspiring to enter the family legal field, emphasising the importance of seeking “a reliable mentor and [assembling] a supportive team” as “navigating the complexities of family law can be demanding both professionally and emotionally”.

“Without a strong support network and experienced mentors to offer guidance and encouragement during challenging times, sustaining a successful career in this field can be daunting.

“Your mentors play a crucial role in shaping your career trajectory and professional growth. It is essential to choose them wisely as they contribute significantly to your development as a lawyer,” Haidamous commented.

Haidamous shared her vision for the evolution of the family legal space in the coming years, foreseeing it as “a more inclusive and respectful platform for all, with outdated practices and perspectives gradually fading away.”

She also noted that, “as young lawyers, it is crucial that we pave the way for the future by instilling these practices. It is already commendable to see many law firms [that] are actively seeking to increase diversity and inclusivity in their workforce and are looking for legal professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

Haidamous also discussed her belief in the increasing prominence of artificial intelligence (AI) tools within the legal system.

However, while acknowledging their potential to enhance productivity and efficiency, she emphasised how “it’s crucial for lawyers to remain mindful of their ethical responsibilities when employing such tools and to acknowledge the potential inaccuracies that AI may present”.

Lastly, Haidamous discussed the key trends currently emerging within the legal system as a whole, highlighting the “increasing attention to mental health and wellbeing within the legal profession”.

Haidamous emphasised that “prioritising mental health is now being viewed as a fundamental necessity for achieving sustainable success and happiness, ultimately helping to prevent burnout”.

She also observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift “towards adaptable work set-ups, promoting numerous legal professionals to seek out greater flexibility in their work arrangements, including options like remote work and flexible scheduling”.

Haidamous outlined that the shift towards embracing flexible and remote work “is beneficial as it reflects employers’ trust in their employees to fulfil their responsibilities from home, thereby fostering mental wellbeing within the industry and ensuring the longevity of their workforce”.