A family law attorney typically handles legal matters between people with a familial relationship. Individuals who may be represented by a lawyer specializing in family law include husbands, wives, children, grandparents, guardians, and domestic partners. She may handle a wide range of legal topics, such as divorces, premarital agreements, and post-marital agreements, and may also take cases involving child custody, child support, and alimony. Other legal issues commonly represented by this type of attorney include those regarding adoption, juvenile delinquency, paternity, and visitation rights.
Divorces and legal separations are among the main issues that a family law attorney would be expected to handle. On behalf of her client, she could attempt to divide marital property, settle child custody issues, allocate the amount of money to be paid for child support or alimony, and set out visitation rights. Of course, the other party may have his own attorney working on the same issues. If the issues cannot be settled, they may be taken to a courtroom judge. The judge would typically issue a final order deciding these and other factors.
Although most people turn to an attorney when a relationship sours, the lawyer may also be of help to people who are going through good times. For example, if a couple wishes to adopt a child, there are several steps that must be taken to make the adoption legal. The laws vary in nearly every jurisdiction and also vary according to the age of the child. In some locations, the birth parents may give up all of their parental rights, but in other jurisdictions, the birth parents always retain a small set of rights.
Sometimes, a family law attorney will create documents to prevent foreseeable future issues. For example, she may create a prenuptial agreement that sets forth how assets would be divided, if a divorce should occur. Other people prefer to create a postnuptial agreement, stating not only how assets should be divided, but also how child custody and visitation arrangements should be arranged. Depending on the level of expertise of the attorney, she may be able to set up a trust fund in the name of a spouse or children as well.
A family law attorney might also need to handle criminal issues in some situations. Attorneys can specialize in specific areas, such as juvenile law or domestic violence. In some cases, a spouse turns violent or a child breaks the law. In those cases, a lawyer who specializes in criminal law may be quite helpful.