Types of Family Law Attorneys

Types of Family Law Attorneys

When you see the words “family lawyer”, you may think of divorces or child custody attorneys.  Family law covers a wide range of services and can extend into adoptions, adult adoptions, even probate. Divorce and probate are actually becoming increasingly intertwined as people live longer and develop cognitive issues that prompt marital changes.  While a lot of people think that family lawyers only deal in divorces, in reality, a family lawyer handles a range of cases, usually relating to the establishment of or the dissolution of a family. Here are some types of cases that family lawyers deal with. Keep in mind that not all family law attorneys may handle all kinds of cases.  Some lawyers stay out of court entirely, and others focus entirely on litigation.  Because the laws relating to custody, divorce, and probate or juvenile court issues like guardianships can intersect, many lawyers have the experience to address a case at any number of “stages.”

Divorce Lawyers

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.

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.

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.

If an attorney is hired by the person who is being accused of violent conduct, it may be possible to disprove the allegations.  In some cases, the abuse happened, but there is still good cause to ensure the children see the parent who is accused.  The Order of Protection issues can overlap with criminal allegations or DCS may be involved.  We have successfully prevailed over DCS (Formerly CPS), but each case is so different and there is never a guarantee.

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.

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. As an example, if you have a child who requires a guardian when they reach adulthood, working with a family lawyer in family court can create certain presumptions around guardianship.  If a child has parents who cannot care for them adequately, a family attorney may be able to help you gain custody and avoid foster care.

If one of your own children has been assigned to foster care, a family lawyer may assist you with the necessary steps in getting your child back. They may find you a counselor, social worker, or other professionals who may get your child back to you.  Case after case in Arizona lays out the roadmap of what DCS has to do, and what has to be proven – and what you should do to get your kids back.

When it comes to deciding on a family lawyer, it’s essential to look for someone that you feel content with and who has dealt with cases similar to yours or who has a passion for your case. You may have needed a family lawyer in the past, but for every person, there is a reason and a season.  Your family lawyer may mean a forever relationship for you – it has for some of our clients – but it does not have to be that way.  As an example, a divorce attorney who primarily handles high-asset divorces may not always know how to deal with DCS.  It’s just lucky for some of our clients that I do handle high-asset divorce cases and deal with DCS.  In our firm, we tend to be high-energy.  I love being creative in my approach and looking at every angle.  We have taken a few cases that we thought we could do some good for our clients and we’ve pored over the case law.  In one case, I remember telling my client that they had a .0001% chance of winning, and I felt bad taking any money, but I would do all I could to help them.  We left no stone unturned, we researched every possible issue and option, and we found a technicality that created a win for that client.  But every case is different.

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.
  • Guardianship.
  • Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions.
  • Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriages.
  • Estate Planning
  • and more


  1. “What Types of Family Law Are There?” National Family Solutions, 8 Mar. 2018, www.nationalfamilysolutions.com/what-types-of-family-law-are-there/.
  2. Interactive, Proof. “Types of Cases.” Family Law Self-Help Center, www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/self-help/getting-started/court-basics/types-of-cases.

Speak With Our Family Law Attorneys In Scottsdale

An experienced family law attorney with Moshier Law will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We shall represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation in Scottsdale. Moshier Law can help with Divorce, Child Custody, Guardianship, Estate Planning and more. We will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.


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