Most people will need a lawyer at least once in their lives, if not more. There are lawyers that specialize in many different types of situations that we might find ourselves in throughout our lives. Everything from criminal law to tax law and many in between. Out of all the different types of lawyers, the family law lawyer is probably one who people rely upon the most. This article explains exactly what a family law lawyer does and why you might have a need for one.
Family Law: A Quick Overview
Family law, as its name implies, deals with many aspects affecting the family. It encompasses such things as:
- child custody and support issues
- pre and post-nuptial agreements
- and much more
Family law lawyers must also be ready to work in a wide variety of situations. They work with clients who are often facing some emotional and difficult life moments. Here are some of the main functions of a family law lawyer:
Divorce, at its bare bones, is the dissolution of a contract—the marriage contract. Many people might not think of it as such, as the marriage often seems more like a party than a legal ceremony, but of course it is just that. If you’re going through the unfortunate circumstances of a divorce, a family law attorney will represent you with knowledge and expertise. They’ll assist you in navigating the complex court system. They also help to make sure you receive everything you’re entitled to regarding:
- child support
Divorce is an emotional roller coaster as it is. A good family law lawyer can help ease the stress a little by ensuring appropriate representation for you during this difficult time.
Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements
Pre and post-nuptial agreements are documents detailing which party gets what during and after a divorce. A couple creates a pre-nuptial agreement prior to a marriage. They’ll outline the property and assets of everyone and what happens to them in the event of a divorce. Some things are not allowable in a pre-nuptial agreement, such as child custody and support. It’s also possible to create such a document after the couple is already married. When this happens, it is called a post-nuptial agreement.
Another issue that family law lawyers often must contend with is that of alimony and spousal support. Some states have laws in place regulating the amount of spousal support depending on varying factors. In others, the judge makes the final decision. A family law lawyer works to provide the court with the necessary information to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. Even in states where with stricter guidelines for the awarding of spousal support, the judge still needs accurate information regarding things such as:
- ability to work
- level of accumulated joint debt
- and perhaps even conduct of each spouse.
It is the job of the family law lawyer to accumulate and provide necessary information and help clients navigate this complex process.
The matter of child custody, whether during a divorce or between couples who never wed, can be heated and traumatic for all parties involved. The court considers many factors when deciding on custody such as:
- which parent appears to have the greatest bond with the child or children in question
- if there has been any criminal or drug activity on the part of one or both of the parents
- stability of the home
- and more
Sometimes, parents and their lawyers can come up with an agreement before going into court. Often the judge supports this arrangement, but if no agreement can be reached, then it is up to the family law lawyer to gather evidence to present to the court in order for the judge to make the most responsible decision regarding custody.
Most states have their own formulas for computing child support. It is the job of the family law lawyer to make sure that the court has all the information it needs to calculate the appropriate amount. The idea of child support is to ensure that the child or children in question receive the amount of financial resources they likely would have enjoyed had both parents been living together under the same roof. The information the family law lawyer collects might include such things as:
- accurate reporting of income
- health care expenses of the children
- and allowable deductions
The lawyer may also gather evidence and report if the other parent is potentially hiding resources or is intentionally unemployed or underemployed.
Family law lawyers don’t only serve families in times of crisis. They also help in moments of great joy, as is the case of adoptions. Family lawyers can help to make sure you have all the right paperwork. They also help guide you through the system to make your adoption legal as quickly as possible. And, in the event something unexpected goes wrong, the family law lawyer is an invaluable asset in your corner to do everything possible to make things right again. Often times, with adoption, there can be a lot of legal red tape. Navigating through the system can be challenging without someone who has experience with adoption.
Abuse and Neglect
If a parent abuses or neglects a child, it’s likely a family law lawyer comes into the picture. They may represent the child, or a parent facing an accusation of abuse or neglect. They may also be on the other side, defending the parent against the accusation. Or, it might involve advocating for a parent who has complied with the court’s requirements to get their child back. In either case, it’s essential to have a family law lawyer with experience in such sensitive areas to make sure that such matters are handled appropriately.
As you can see, family law attorneys have many responsibilities. Chances are, at some point you may require the services of such a lawyer yourself. If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about hiring a family law lawyer, please contact Cross Family Law at (972) 665-9880 today. Our professional staff is here to answer any questions you may have. We also offer consultations if you have specific questions about your case. We have your best interests at heart. Our staff wants to help you through your life event.