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Choosing a Family Lawyer

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Family lawyers handle a wide variety of issues pertaining to family-related matters, including divorce, adoption, estate planning and other issues. Much of family law deals with protecting the rights of children. This includes cases aimed at proving or disproving fatherhood, establishing child custody and support, and protecting children from abuse.

Your family attorney can help safeguard your assets and ensure that the rights and wellbeing of your children are protected. In cases dealing with divorce and other contentious matters, a lawyer can help diffuse tension and successfully manage emotionally charged issues.

What Family Lawyers Do

A family lawyer's role depends on the issue(s) at hand. Below are some of the most common issues family attorneys handle.

Prenuptial agreements. Also known as premarital contracts, prenuptial agreements list property owned as well as debts, and outline each party's rights with regard to the property in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also provide for alimony arrangements and ensure that property acquired prior to marriage is left to children from previous marriages.

Separation and Divorce. A family lawyer will help you through every aspect of separation and divorce. Depending on the case, this may include division of assets, alimony (spousal support), child support, and visitation and child custody. Your family attorney can also help you decide if mediation is possible and advise you on minimizing costs.

Adoption. All forms of adoption, but particularly foreign adoption, can be incredibly complicated without the help of an attorney. A family lawyer can help guide you through the maze of requirements, paperwork and red tape. Family attorneys also work to ensure that the current and/or future rights of biological and adoptive parents are explicitly dealt with so that there are no surprises.

Parenting. Family attorneys are hired to protect the rights of mothers, fathers and children. By taking measures such as requesting DNA tests, a family lawyer can help compel a father to pay child support — or relieve a man who is not the father of the obligation to pay child support. In other cases, DNA tests can be used to protect a father's right to visitation and child custody.

Estate planning and trusts. A family lawyer can help ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes when you die. Without proper planning and assistance, your case could end up in probate court, where a judge will decide how to distribute your assets.

In addition to these matters, family lawyers also handle cases involving the following:

  • Guardianship
  • Children's rights
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Foster care
  • Fertility and surrogacy


Selecting a Family Lawyer

Because matters of the family are often sensitive, cases that fall under family law can be emotionally demanding. To effectively pursue your case, your attorney will need to ask you personal questions; therefore, choosing a family lawyer that you feel comfortable with is very important.

Depending on the case, your family lawyer may need to assess your financial situation. Make sure you feel comfortable disclosing this information with the lawyer you are considering. It is a good idea to ask if he or she should has extensive experience handling financial documentation.

Another factor to consider is your attorney's demeanor. He or she will be communicating with opposing attorneys and other parties, so you will want to make sure that he or she has experience handling these matters in a productive, civil manner. This will save you money and spare you from unnecessary frustration.

In many cases, the initial consultation is free, so if necessary meet with more than one family attorney. It is important that your lawyer have a successful track record with cases similar to yours.

Laws that govern matters such as divorce and adoption can vary significantly from state to state. For more information on your specific concerns, contact a family attorney today.