When individuals decide to practice law, there are many different avenues they can choose from. One popular area of practice is family law.
What Is Family Law?
Family law is an area of legal practice that deals with issues such as marriages, divorces, child custody, and adoptions. Attorneys who practice family law represent their clients in court proceedings and negotiations. They can also draft important documents like court petitions or agreements on property and business,
Some family law attorneys specialize in matters other than divorce, such as adoption, paternity, or emancipation. Family encompasses many aspects of life. Family law lawyers help people with a wide range of issues, including those that people might not immediately associate with a family law lawyer.
Additionally, they are well-versed in the legal system and have the experience and knowledge to provide various clients with the guidance and representation they need in family law matters.
What Areas Does Family Law Cover?
Most family lawyers represent their clients in divorce cases and other divorce-related matters. However, family law covers many issues, such as foster care or reproductive rights.
Family law issues are often very personal, so having a legal professional you can trust will help ensure your loved ones’ interests are protected and properly represented during legal proceedings.
Here are a few specific practice areas of family law services.
Divorce is one of the most common areas where a family law attorney is needed.
The legal process can be complex and emotionally draining when a marriage ends. A family law attorney can provide clients with legal representation throughout the divorce process, helping them navigate property division, alimony, and child custody issues. They can also help clients negotiate a settlement agreement or represent them in court if necessary.
Within the broad realm of divorce, there are many different processes. A few of these processes include arbitration, mediation, litigation, collaborative divorce, summary divorce, contested divorce, uncontested divorce, and more.
The type of divorce lawyer you choose depends on your situation and relationship with your ex-spouse. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly research each divorce process to see which one is for you.
- Child Custody & Child Support
Child custody is another area in which a family law attorney can be invaluable.
When parents separate or divorce, determining the custody of children can be a difficult and contentious process. Therefore, a family law attorney can help parents negotiate a custody arrangement that is in the children’s best interests. They do this by considering factors such as the child’s age, their relationship with each parent, and the parent’s ability to provide for their needs.
Furthermore, child support is another issue that often arises in divorce or custody cases. A family law attorney can help parents establish a fair child support agreement based on factors such as the parent’s income, the child’s needs, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.
They can also help parents enforce child support orders if the other parent fails to pay. However, courts can depart from guidelines for significant reasons. This is because children are entitled to both parents’ incomes.
For example, if circumstances change, child support may be increased. This could include an increase in the income of the payer and an increase in the cost of living or a decrease in income for the custodial parents. On the flip side, the amount can also be reduced when the circumstances warrant it.
Photo by Gustavo Fring
In family law matters, sometimes adoption cases arise.
Choosing to adopt formally can be a long and complex process—involving legal requirements such as background checks, home studies, and court appearances. Thus, a family law attorney can guide prospective adoptive parents through the process, ensuring that all legal requirements for family law services are met, and the adoption is completed smoothly.
Paternity isn’t just a family law issue affecting fathers—it also involves mothers.
When a child is born to unmarried parents, the father may need to establish paternity before he can seek custody or visitation rights. A family law attorney can help the father establish paternity and seek the appropriate legal rights. Alternatively, a family law attorney can help a mother establish paternity and seek child support from the father.
- Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be many different things, like physical or emotional abuse. However, it’s a serious issue that can impact families in various ways.
A family law attorney can help victims of domestic violence obtain a restraining order against their abuser, ensuring that they and their children are protected from harm. Also, they can help victims of domestic violence seek custody of their children and negotiate a fair divorce settlement.
- Pre & Post-Nuptial Agreement
Before they get married, couples often make legal agreements about their rights and responsibilities upon marriage, the protection of certain property in case of bankruptcy, or how to divide property if a couple separates or dies. Post-nuptial agreements are similar to pre-nuptial agreements, but they are entered into after a couple has been married.
Family lawyers with experience with both types of contracts can assist the couple in drafting an agreement and can also handle any legal issues arising from the contract. In addition, these agreements replace many of the default laws of marriage that would apply otherwise in the event of a divorce or a death.