What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

Family lawyers are legal professionals who work with clients on legal issues that arise from life transitions within a family.

These issues can be:

Divorce and Legal Separation: Renowned marriage expert John Gottman has said that there are unresolvable conflicts in marriage [1].  These can ultimately cause people who are married to either give up on the marriage or to do something that creates an “ultimate” conflict.  The ultimate conflict looks like an ultimatum to the marriage but is a symptom of an operational issue within the relationship.

Some family lawyers who handle divorce or legal separation will assembly line divorce or legal separation.  When every tool is a hammer, everything you hit is a nail – right?

If a client comes to our firm, certain that they will file for divorce or legal separation, we explore which option is best and carry out their wishes. However, at times people feel marriages are worth saving but don’t know how to go about saving the relationship.  Complicating this is that legal consequences exist that can create a barrier to trying. For example, the law favors at least filing for divorce or legal separation if you’re the breadwinner and problems arise. A simple court filing can create so much chaos and conflict. There is a way to create legal protections without the chaos, and we work with each individual client to explore every option.

If both spouses will consider collaborative process, we obviously tell them about that option. Most lawyers are not trained to use collaborative process, so the other spouse may not hear about collaborative law anywhere else. If the spouses have both heard about collaborative process before hiring counsel, the chances are far greater that they will use collaborative process.  If the other spouse has hired non-collaborative process counsel, chances are they have already formed a relationship with that lawyer.

The collaborative process minimizes expense and reduces the time for a divorce and maximizes the focus on each individual’s feelings, wishes, and preferences in a way that a litigated divorce simply cannot afford. Just because the other lawyer isn’t trained to use collaborative process, or doesn’t know what it is, doesn’t mean the other lawyer can’t use collaborative process. After 2016, any lawyer in Arizona is permitted to use the procedure in Rule 67.1 of the Family Court Rules to resolve a divorce.

The divorce, whether resolved by litigation or collaborative process, or some other option like mediation, will deal with any number of issues around family members. Legal issues include child custody, divorce, and guardianship will play a role.  In some “gray divorce” situations the guardianship is involving the care of a spouse who is suffering psychosis or dementia or other cognitive impairment. In these cases, if we can help the family use collaborative process, the impairment is not made public in court records.

Beyond Divorce Issues

Going through a divorce is probably one of the most exhausting experiences that a family face. Emotions may run high and make it difficult for a couple to settle it peacefully. A capable family law attorney can help couples in the steps of divorcing to settle the matter without having to go to court. With divorce can bring business dissolutions or shifts in the running of a family-owned business, family or commercial lending issues, and dissolving high stakes assets.  A family lawyer may work with financial, business and real estate valuation experts to help create clarity around money and finances.

Handling Estates and Wills

A will is a legal document through which people declare how they would like their property taken care of when they pass away. If you don’t prepare a will, the State of Arizona has statutes that establish a basic framework for inheritance. State law may not reflect your individual wishes. For one thing, a will states who will care for your minor children if you are incapacitated or dead. A family lawyer may help you draft a will.

Handling Child Custody Agreements

When couples separate, one of the hardest issues they face is what happens to the child(ren). Separated couples are required to agree on how to take care of the child(ren) in the new arrangement, or a court decides for them. Child custody is determined by an agreement or court order in which each party must live with the terms in that matter. A capable family lawyer can assist parents that are separating to draw up such an agreement. A family law attorney may assist parents in altering child custody agreements if needed. There are two “phases” of child custody orders: Pre-decree, which is before a court order, and post-decree, which is after a court order.

Handling Prenup Agreements

A prenup agreement is a document signed by a couple before marriage. Even though the terms can be different for every relationship, the main goal is to detail the conditions of alimony and the property division in the case of a divorce or breakup. A family lawyer can help a couple in creating a prenuptial agreement. A family lawyer can also help with post-nuptial agreements.

Represent Litigants in Court

Even though family attorneys can assist people to settle family disagreements without going to court, some people will wind up in court. In the case of a court proceeding, family law attorneys have to think on their feet and be prepared to make fact-specific arguments. Your family lawyer should know your individual situation. Family law attorneys often do go to court and should have the required legal knowledge and realistic experience to help litigants through the complicated jungle of family court.

The Takeaway

A competent, skilled family law attorney can bring a result to your life that money cannot buy. A skilled family lawyer can help navigate family disagreements that otherwise could destroy a family due to high emotions. The right lawyer has the experience and knowledge to help people resolve issues associated with divorce, prenuptial agreements, child custody, and estate management among other legal issues impacting families. Please be absolutely sure your family law attorney can knowledgeably talk about collaborative law. Collaborative law filters into just about every high stakes, hard-to-divide asset that requires continued cooperation. If you’re having a family legal matter that requires a reasonable approach, contact Moshier Law.


  1. “5 Things a Family Lawyer Can Do For You.” Lawyer Referral Service, 8 Nov. 2018, austinlrs.com/blog/5-things-a-family-lawyer-can-do-for-you/.
  2. Fulwiler, Michael. “Managing Conflict: Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems.” The Gottman Institute, https://Www.gottman.com, 7 Jan. 2019, www.gottman.com/blog/managing-conflict-solvable-vs-perpetual-problems/.

Speak With Our Family Law Attorney In Scottsdale

An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients so they have the brightest future possible. 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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Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

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