What is Family Law? How to Find a Family Lawyer

 Family Law

What is Family Law?

Family law refers to a large body of law that addresses everything that relates to families. It handles familial relationships ranging from marriages to divorce to child custody. It also handles more specialized portions of the law such as in vitro fertilization. In certain situations, it has significant cross over and influence from juvenile law and elder law.

Governing Law

Family law is a combination of code law and case law. In other words, the laws are both passed through statute and developed through the court’s interpretation. There are no set federal guidelines for all legal matters relating to this area, and it all depends on the state in which you are in. Matters relating to the potential loss of liberty such as the analysis of domestic abuse are typically codified in statutes. Matters such as the dispersal of marital property and the interpretation of the best interests of the child are most often interpreted through case law. Child Protective Services functions under a combination of federal law and state code.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

Family law attorneys are generally brought in where a dispute arises in the family or between the family and the government. When Child Protective Services intervenes, for instance, it is important to have an attorney from a law firm or partnership to represent your interests. Hiring an attorney to help you protect your interests and demonstrate your position in the most persuasive way possible is important in all aspects of family law, but it is particularly important in dealings with Child Protective Services and child custody battles.

Another growing reason for hiring an attorney or law firm is the required mediation or arbitration developing in some states. This is sometimes referred to as collaborative law. However, the attorney that you hire for the collaborative law mediation or arbitration cannot represent you in a future legal proceeding relating to this matter. The other side’s attorney will make the same agreement. This is most often used in divorce cases, but it has also been used successfully in child support and child custody situations as well as visitation disputes.

Things to Look for in a Family Law Lawyer

The qualifications you need from your attorney will vary based on your situation. If all you need is a simple divorce, then you may be able to use the services of a general practice lawyer. Most general practice lawyers and law firms handle the basic matters ranging from divorce to drafting wills.

However, some family law lawyers have additional qualifications and specializations that help them to better serve clients. It is becoming customary for family law lawyers to provide sercies in other areas, such as assisting families through the traumatic situations by recommending counseling or offering meditation services. Many times, they will help you analyze your situation and determine whether a preventative measure such as a reconciliation agreement would be more appropriate. While not required, it is also helpful if the attorney has a background in financial management and understanding since many of the cases involve mathematical computations. If the lawyer will be working with your child, then it’s important that he be good with children.

It is also important to look for a family law lawyer or law firm who has experience in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Family law is one of the most contentious and emotional sections of law in the United States. You will want someone who can represent your interests zealously while also working to establish peace and develop healthy relationships. The general litigious style of trial lawyers, while excellent for representing you in the court room, is not the best match for most matters related to family law.

Family Law Blogs

  • How Do Judges Decide Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child?

    When parents cannot agree on how they are going to raise their children after separation, judges or arbitrators have to decide which parent should have custody. That is unfortunate because judges usually have a very limited amount of time to spend wi...

  • The Pros and Cons of Pro Se Divorce

    Whether the reasons involve mistrusting attorneys, high fees, or the belief of the "easy" case, pro se divorce filings are increasing. This trend is likely to continue as form availability increases and online document services such as LegalZoom grow...

  • Custody Arrangements Both Parents Can Agree On

    Divorce is always a life altering decision for the people involved. The feelings of hurt and anger that former husbands and wives have during the divorce proceedings often cloud their judgments, making it difficult to separate good decisions from bad...

  • The Best Interests of the Child

    In family law, matters regarding the children are generally settled using the best interests of the child test. The best interests of the child is a factor based test that developed in response to the parens patriae doctrine. The purpose of this stan...