Family law is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of legal issues, from divorce and child custody to adoption and estate planning. Family lawyers can help you resolve any legal issue that affects your family. Whether you’re in need of assistance with your divorce or property settlement, looking for an experienced lawyer who specializes in adoptions, or wants to plan ahead by creating a will or living trust, there are many reasons why it pays to consult with the right attorney before taking any significant actions.
The good news is that there are also many different types of cases handled by family lawyers – some more common than others – which means no matter what kind of problem you’re experiencing, there’s likely someone out there who has experience handling similar cases.
Here are some of the more common types of cases family lawyers handle:
Divorce and marriage dissolution
When two people part ways after a long-term relationship, whether they choose to dissolve their marriage or break up as unmarried partners, the issues that arise tend to be complex. If you’re located in Brisbane, your best bet would be hiring a Brisbane family lawyer to help you settle on an agreement. These cases often involve property division and asset distribution, child custody and support, alimony and spousal maintenance, and the impact of each spouse’s new lifestyle on his or her earning capacity.
Family lawyers can help you protect your rights throughout this difficult time by helping you understand what documentation is required to dissolve your marriage (or end your domestic partnership) as well as assist you in endearing yourself with such items as retirement benefits and pensions if necessary.
Child custody/visitation/support/protection orders
Many family law attorneys end up handling cases involving child custody and support, either because they choose this sort of work or because their clients seek them out. It’s the most common type of case for family lawyers since one-third to one-half of all cases involve child custody in some way.
In addition to working with spouses during divorce proceedings, family lawyers often deal with parents who petition for child custody but are denied, or those looking to adopt a child. These cases usually focus on the welfare and best interest of the children involved and take into account such factors as living situation, income level, and education, while determining where it would be in a child’s best interest to live.
Another popular area among family lawyers is adoption law. This may seem surprising since adoptions are usually thought of as a social worker’s territory. On the contrary, if you’ve ever seen one of those TV shows about adoption or read an article about it, then you know that adoption can be very complicated.
For example, adoptive parents who want to adopt must petition the court for the child’s legal guardianship and often go through medical exams, home visits, and other requirements to prove they’re fit parents. When the case is complete, the judge issues an order to make their parental rights official. Family lawyers take care of all these processes during adoption proceedings so adoptive parents don’t have to worry about whether their actions will be questioned by local authorities.
Relocation disputes are another common type of family law case. These cases often involve parents who don’t want the other parent to move away with their children without permission or notice, forcing them to travel many miles away in order to see their kids.
Family lawyers handle relocation disputes by looking at issues such as whether one parent is being reasonable in terms of distance, his or her motive for moving, and the impact it will have on visitation rights between child and non-custodial parent. If you’re having problems seeing your children because they live several hours away from where you do, hiring a family attorney can help prevent this problem from continuing — most attorneys won’t charge anything if they aren’t successful in their efforts.
Estate planning and probate
Estate planning and probate are gaining in popularity among family lawyers because it’s often one of two types of cases they might get involved with. Either the clients come to them for advice during estate planning proceedings, or they get called upon to make sure a will has been properly executed when someone dies.
In the first case, family lawyers help individuals write up their final wishes regarding what happens to their money, property, and other assets after they die. They also inform beneficiaries of the tax rules that apply to inheritances so they’re not left with anything but IRS penalties following the death of a loved one. In the second case, family lawyers ensure that all legal procedures have been followed correctly so an estate is distributed according to law instead of being forgotten or improperly distributed.
Domestic violence restraining orders (also known as protection orders) and divorce
Another common type of family law case is the domestic violence restraining order. These highly publicized cases take a lot of publicity and often garner a great deal of public sympathy for the victims involved. In these cases, a prosecutor or victim’s attorney represents one party in a divorce case while another attorney from the same firm represents the other party.
In addition to representing spouses during divorce proceedings, family lawyers also take on custody disputes between parents who are unmarried or not married to each other at the time of birth when paternity has been established. They may also help handle child support orders if one parent files for it even though there isn’t an active court order in place yet (this doesn’t happen very often).
No matter what legal issue your family is facing, a family lawyer can help. From divorce and child custody to probate and estate planning, these attorneys are equipped to deal with a wide variety of issues. If you’re not sure whether or not you need legal assistance, contact a family law firm for a consultation; many offer free or discounted rates for the first meeting. You may be surprised at how much they can help you resolve your case without it costing you an arm and a leg.