Also termed as matrimonial law, family law is one segment of the law which deals specifically with matters relating to families and relationships. These are the laws that govern family issues including marriage, divorce, civil unions, child support, and adoption.
While they vary across states, these laws have been made to protect the rights of individual family members, and to support the interests of the overall family structure.
A family law attorney is a legal representative specializing in family law, and such attorneys are generally engaged in cases of legal disputes, or any matters that involve family members which need resolving.
Many individuals may not be well informed about the role and significance of a family law solicitor, and hence can be uncertain as to whether they need one.
Hire A Family Lawyer
Well, read on to find out the seven signs which point to the need for you to engage a family lawyer!
- In the Preparation for Marriage
Now, this might seem odd because legal issues may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to marriage. However, it’s still ideal that at the minimum, you consult a family attorney before you proceed with getting married.
The experienced lawyer will go through the legal details and requirements for marriage in your home state with you and can provide you advice on your legal rights and responsibilities.
Family law attorneys can also be of great help in the drafting of a prenup agreement, especially where there are pre-owned assets involved. The prenup will decide how wealth gets divided during unfortunate situations of a separation, or death.
This is definitely useful for couples with a significant difference in wealth, or where there is the presence of dependents from past marriages.
- Forming a Civil Union, or Domestic Partnership
Such partnerships are a kind of status awarded on a state level, which is to legally recognize two individuals who live together but who are not bonded to each other by marriage. These kinds of status are hence different from that of married couples, and the details and legality will vary across different states.
These domestic partnerships were initially introduced as a means to allow same-sex couples to enjoy married life, rights, and responsibilities without the legal title of marriage before the legalization of same-sex marriages came about.
Today, such partnerships are a popular choice with celebrities, and they mainly represent an alternative way for couples who want their partnership rights without the conformity of marital union.
As these domestic partnerships involve a great deal of jurisdictions and requirements, it is necessary that you have a family lawyer to go through all the nitty-gritty details with you.
- In the Unfortunate Case of Divorce
Settling a divorce is probably that one situation that most people would associate family lawyers with.
Terminating a marriage is certainly no simple matter, as it involves many legal complications that could take years to be resolved. The complications mostly arise from the division of assets, child custody, and alimony.
There are various reasons for a divorce, and whether it is due to domestic conflicts or abuse, both parties are entitled to their legal rights and liabilities. Each spouse will usually pair up with a family lawyer who will represent his or her interests and will help to communicate and negotiate on behalf of the individual.
- Conflict Over Child Custody
After a divorce, comes the battle over child custody. As each parent has a legal responsibility and right to care for their children, this is how the conflict begins. However, child custody conflicts are not borne from the separation of parents only, but also against the state or other family members.
For instance, the state could decide to take your child away through the Child Welfare Service should they suspect negligence, abuse, or the incapability to care for the child.
In a child custody case, the court will require evidence that you’re capable of supporting the young till he or she turns legal. The family lawyer will hence guide you through the entire procedure of fighting for child custody.
In the case that you’ve been wrongfully accused of child abuse or negligence, the lawyer will help to fight for your innocence and prevent the matter from blowing up into a criminal lawsuit.
- Adopting a Child
The process of adoption is certainly a long strenuous one that could take many months to settle. The complication of the legal issues involved is why many fail to adopt a child. This is because you have to be able to prove that you are in the right physical, mental, emotional, and financial state to care for an adopted child.
The process will involve a huge amount of paperwork and documents required, which take much time and effort, and could lead to disputes.
You may need to attend several court hearings to settle any differences or support your claims, and this is when you need the help of a family lawyer. The attorney will aid in the filing of paperwork, and help you turn things to your favor as much as possible.
- Drafting Estate Plan and Wills
Estate plans and wills are a crucial and necessary process that ensures that an individual’s assets are protected after they are gone, or have become incapable of making decisions and taking actions.
A will decides how your assets will be split between your dependents, while an estate plan is more elaborate, and describes the ownership and management of all assets. The latter also protects your inheritance from legal issues and liabilities that could arise from the transferring of ownership.
Such documents can be challenging to prepare, so the help of a family lawyer will make things process much more smoothly.
- Family Disputes
In times of family disputes like property settlements, and where everyone else has engaged an attorney, so should you. When things have become that serious, you definitely need professional help to resolve your matters.
Family lawyers are great at resolving family disputes without necessarily having matters brought to court.
In all, there are various situations in which you may feel the need to hire a family lawyer, and these seven are no doubt the most common ones.