Family law encompasses all the court processes, rules and guidelines that will affect the family as a unit. Most family issues may require court counsel while others may be solved outside court amicably. Those that are more complex and very sensitive require the services of an attorney. Cases such as adoption of a child and/ or custody, divorce, and sharing of family property, among others will more often than not, require the intervention of a skilled attorney. Family law generally revolves around people with blood relations or those related through marriage.
Attorneys in family law may have specialties in different fields within the laws that govern the family in a general viewpoint. As such, we may have attorneys with specialty in matters relating to divorce while others may have a bias for law that are relating to other serious family matters.
Family law entails the following topics:
Marriage and family life
Requirements of family units for eligibility purposes which may include gender (e.g. same sex) and age are mostly under the laws of the state. Other partnerships apart from marriage may also be included.
Child support and custody
As a result of divorce, the best interests of children (for those families with children) such as finance and shelter must be decided by the court. When the financial capacity of a non-custodial parent changes, child support terms may undergo alterations as necessary.
Dissolution of marriage/ divorce
The dissolution of a marriage is ordered through courts. One of the divorcees may be required by law to provide financial support to the other after divorce. Either of the partners is represented by their own attorney who is expected to lay down their facts and argue their case in court. Attorneys specialising in divorce have a skill- set that include but not limited to division of marital property, support of spouse, child support and visitation among others.
Family reproductive rights
Reproductive rights such as termination of pregnancies, birth control, among others are often altered from time to time and are governed by the state.
Child abuse and family violence
Although covered under criminal courts, they may induce issues affecting the family in general.
Emancipation and Parental Liability
Parents often shoulder any actions their children may take. Emancipation may be granted upon the proof by the children that they have the capacity to live away from their parents.
Adoption and foster care
To foster or adopt children, given legalities may be considered. Many other factors may also affect the process of adoption such as differences in state laws and the geographical origin of the child.
Why there is need for hiring a family attorney
Just like other areas in law, a number of factors will determine whether you may or may not need a family attorney. Simple factors such as getting married, relocating one’s family from one state to another may not require the intervention of an attorney. In a case such as signing a premarital (prenuptial) agreement, an attorney will definitely be needed.
Matters such as divorce may be marred by emotions and as such, hiring an attorney to oversee the process is a matter that cannot be overemphasised.
Most initial consultations are not charged by the attorneys and therefore it will not hurt to have a chat with one in case of questions one may have.