Understanding and navigating the legal system is a vast and complex undertaking, which typically means that attorneys choose to specialize in one or two areas of law. You may have heard the term “family law” or “family law attorney” without understanding what specifically this profession entails.
Family law practices help clients through domestic and family-related matters such as divorce, child custody and alimony. Some attorneys choose to focus on one specific area of family law, such as divorce, and don’t take on any other types of cases. Others are experienced with a variety of types of family law cases.
When hiring a family lawyer, it is important to choose someone who has knowledge and expertise in cases like yours. It is perfectly acceptable and reasonable to ask an attorney what types of cases and clients they have represented before hiring them for your family law issue.
The types of family law specialties include:
1. Divorce and Separation
During a divorce, a family attorney will be able to assist in settling the division of a couple’s property, assets, and their businesses they may have had together. They can help file the appropriate paperwork and represent a spouse if the case goes to court. A family law attorney can also help draft prenuptial agreements, settle alimony, and create cohabitation agreements.
2. Child Custody, Access, and Support
Sometimes, divorces and separation involve children. In this case, a family law attorney can help navigate which parent gets what type of custody (full or 50/50, or other arrangements). In some instances, child support and custody can be renegotiated and a family law attorney can assist with this as well.
Family law attorneys can help with a family adopting a child or if a step-parent is adopting their step-child. A family lawyer can also assist in establishing guardianship or emancipation, which is a situation in which a minor becomes self-supporting and no longer under the legal guardianship of their parents.
Sometimes the paternity of a child needs to be established or confirmed. A family law attorney can help individuals navigate this process, whether they are the child’s mother, the child’s presumed father, or the child’s biological father.
5. Domestic Violence
Family law attorneys may also represent those who have been victims of family violence. Child abuse and neglect can also fall under this area of law.