What a Family Lawyer Does
A family lawyer exists to help clients understand their legal position and resolve any issue relating to a particular familial arrangement. He or she can draft pre-nuptial agreements before marriage to protect a client’s financial interests, draft separation agreements, and advise on the grounds of divorce dissolution and child custody.
Family law is broad and complicated, which is why people prefer to consult a family lawyer for any significant change in the family dynamic, such as marriage, divorce, separation, child custody, adoption, alimony, or property settlements.
This post takes a closer look at four areas of family law, namely divorce, child custody, post-decree modifications, and division of the marital estate.
The majority of marriages in the US (about 40 to 50 percent) end in divorce. It is often a stressful event for most people (especially with kids involved) because it results in the altercation of the family unit and turns all the lives involved upside down.
When it comes to what a divorce lawyer does, a lot of issues come into play. For one, they can advise on a reasonable financial settlement following a divorce and ensure the equitable and fair division of assets between parties. They also handle child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), property division, and modification of divorce proceedings.
Child custody and visitation are easily some of the most contested and debated areas of family law. In most cases, the court decides parenting time and child custody based on the child’s best interests. The court will usually look at the bond between the parents and the child, the ability of a parent to provide a stable home, and significant substance abuse issues or criminal records.
Lawyers assist their clients in coming to an agreement, which the court usually follows. If a settlement is not possible, the family lawyers will present evidence about the child’s best interests, including school records, medical records, the testimony of a substance abuse counselor or psychologist, and criminal records.
A court enters a divorce decree upon the finalization of divorce proceedings. However, sometimes some family law issues arise after the divorce settlement, such as if one parent loses his or her job. In such a case, the affected parent may apply to have the child support order modified to reflect the new developments.
Such post-decree modifications may also occur if a child’s needs change, and the parents may want to change the visitation (parenting time) agreement as appropriate.
Division of the Marital Estate
The law considers all property that a couple acquires during their marriage as marital property, regardless of the title or which spouse owns it. However, the separate or excluded property is not subject to division, and it includes:
- Property that one spouse owned before the marriage
- A gift to a spouse
- Payment to a spouse for the pain and suffering in a personal injury judgment
Family lawyers will help their clients divide their marital estate equitably. For instance, if a spouse owned a condominium before marriage, it becomes excluded property, but any increase in value during the marriage becomes part of the family property.
Also, if a couple owns a condominium together but has not paid their assessment, their divorce lawyers may need to negotiate with a home-owner association attorney to resolve the debt outstanding before its division.
To navigate the harsh and touchy issues arising between family members, people seek the services of a family lawyer. They handle various legal matters, including unions, split-ups, disputes, lawsuits, and negotiations.
At the end of any family law proceeding, a lawyer should help their client have a better-defined relationship with their family.
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