If you have experienced a divorce, you may be familiar with what divorce lawyers do. For starters, our firm gives every client a “divorce introduction letter.” This letter gives our clients the process of a divorce or legal separation. This is true whether the divorce or legal separation is filed. Legal separation and divorce are terms that could be used together because a legal separation filing can be converted to divorce rather easily, and some divorces resolve in a legal separation or even reconciliation.
A divorce lawyer may assist you throughout your legal separation and/or divorce. The lawyer will work alongside you to get you the best settlement you may get, knowing that the judge will usually award that same settlement. Just this morning in court, I had offered a resolution that was declined, but when we re-offered it again, the judge was really interested in that offer. Ultimately, that was the resolution for that case. The divorce lawyer may assist you in negotiation on matters such as who gets the marital home, who pays alimony or spousal maintenance, the division of assets, and how to split any debts of the marriage.
Navigating Divorce: Trials, Collaborative Law, and Affordable Options
A lot of the time, a divorce lawyer may help you get the outcome you want without needing to go to trial. If your case uses collaborative law, you’ll get a lot more face time with your lawyer and a lot more thorough review of your financial documents by a neutral expert you both pay. This is a win-win, but unless both lawyers use collaborative law, don’t expect this efficient, cost-effective resolution. In a handful of cases, a trial may be necessary; when this occurs, your lawyer will represent you throughout that process. Trials can take a long time to complete because you have to finish discovery, and court schedules are packed.
Some divorcing couples cannot afford an attorney or just don’t want to pay for a private attorney. Under these circumstances, we find that people can reach results that cause them to call us afterward to explore whether they got the best outcome. Some people are friendly enough to resolve their cases without arguments between them, but for many people, there is some conflict.
Child Custody and Paternity Lawyers
If the paternity of a child is in question, a family lawyer may help the father or mother either prove or disprove paternity. If a man is paying child support for a child who is not legally his child, he may want to challenge paternity. This is a very technical and time-sensitive area of the law. Get an attorney quick if you think this is an issue for you. Sometimes, a father will file to establish rights and the mother will claim he’s not the father, and try to have him severed from the child’s rights. We have represented fathers who asserted their rights only to be faced with a claim that their rights should be severed! These cases can be very stressful, and we have developed a list of important cases the court has to consider before severing a parent’s rights whether privately or the request of DCS.
Navigating Child Custody
Moving past paternity, child custody can be an issue between mothers and fathers who need to create a parenting plan for their children. Sometimes relationships fail or marriages fall apart. An attorney helping child custody clients can help a client in obtaining joint legal and physical rights to a child. On the other hand, if sole legal decision-making is in the best interest of the child, an attorney may also help with that too. Sole legal decision-making is not usually favored, but in some cases, it’s a good fit for parenting dynamic. An attorney can tell you which judges and which situations can merit sole legal decision-making.
A child custody attorney may also assist in figuring out disagreements relating to child support. Who should pay, what the amount will be, and what expenses each parent will be responsible for are all issues that a child custody attorney (or a legal advocacy group) may help their clients with?
Marriage and Civil Union Lawyers
Those who are getting married or heading into a domestic partnership or civil union may want to draw up agreements. By law, when you get married, you create a contract. You may not realize it, but your contract is with the state, and it says that everything you acquire during the marriage is the joint property of both spouses. Debts are also joint debts if acquired while you are legally married. Someone who owns a business, or property, or has other legal issues may want to create a prenuptial agreement to protect that asset or to protect the other spouse. Many couples who are already married may also choose to put together a postnuptial agreement, which an attorney may help with that also.
Family Law Lawyers Dealing with Abuse
Child abuse and domestic abuse are very serious issues that a family law attorney may address. We have to be trained to understand the nuances. These are really discreet issues and often the signs of a domestic violence cycle aren’t obvious to just everyone. The lawyer may represent the person who is the victim in the case, or the person who is defending against these allegations. The lawyer could help the victim to file a restraining order, called an Order of Protection. These Orders of Protection have very specific laws dedicated to them, and consulting an attorney to defend against an Order of Protection or make allegations in the Order of Protection is vital.
Family Law Attorneys – Adoption Lawyers
If you wish to place a child up for adoption or adopt a child, you may need an adoption lawyer. They may assist you in finding a suitable adoption agency and file any legal documentation that may be needed to either surrender or adopt a child. They may also assist with same-sex couples or stepparent adoptions. An attorney might represent their client in court if legal difficulties come up. We have represented clients who sought to adopt after years of guardianship, and we have represented stepparents who adopted. This is a very rewarding area of the law, but it can bridge into the termination of another parent’s rights or the loss of rights for a parent. Adoptions arise out of loss, so your lawyer must know how to address this loss.
Family Law Attorneys – Guardianship Lawyers
If you’re looking to get guardianship of a person that is not your own minor child, guardianships are challenging. Guardianships include children in addition to adults with developmental issues or dementia.
Choosing a Family Lawyer: Finding the Right Fit for Your Case
Bear in mind that you aren’t always required to pay the high costs of a private lawyer. Some legal groups may represent you for lower costs, depending on the specifics. The attorney general may do adoptions, but this may not work if DCS will challenge you. Consider what services you may need and call us to find out if we may help.
Types of Family Law Cases
Family cases are a civil type of case, but they usually involve issues between parents, children and concerned spouses.
Family courts deal with a wide range of cases involving domestic issues. A lot of the common issues handled at family court are:
- Name Changes.
- Marriage Dissolution.
- Juvenile Matters.
- Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence.
- Paternity and Child Custody.
- Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions.
- Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriages.
- Estate Planning
- and more
- “What Types of Family Law Are There?” National Family Solutions, 8 Mar. 2018, www.nationalfamilysolutions.com/what-types-of-family-law-are-there/.
- Interactive, Proof. “Types of Cases.” Family Law Self-Help Center, www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/self-help/getting-started/court-basics/types-of-cases.