Most likely more than once have you heard people mention their lawyer or solicitor when talking about family law issues. You probably think of a lawyer that handles divorces, adoptions and child custody matters. And you are right. Nevertheless, there is much more so called “solicitors” or “family law attorneys” do, probably you ignore some of their many areas of practice within family law.
Family law comprises a body of case precedents and statutes that rule the legal responsibilities between persons who share a personal and domestic connection. Usually, the involved parties are blood-related, or they related through marriage, although family law can affect more distant relationships as well.
A family law attorney´s practice involves all legal issues involving all types of family relationships, from divorce to child custody, from adoption to minor´s emancipation, to mention just a few. Generally speaking, a family law lawyer can handle any family related matters; although it is common for many of them specialize in one area of such a broad legal field. That is how you will find attorneys that dedicate only to adoptions, or paternity, or any other particular area.
Some of the legal issues that family law encompasses are:
- Divorce and annulment
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of assets
- Liabilities due to divorce
- Adoption and surrogacy
- Minor´s emancipation
- Termination of parental rights
- Paternity (paternity testing and paternity fraud)
- Child abuse and child abduction
- Child neglect and dependency
- Protection orders
- Wills and trusts
- Prenuptial agreements
- Marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships
In family law, in most cases, attorneys end up doing much more than assessing and advising their clients on their legal rights. Their area of practice leads them to be their customers at the most stressful moments of their lives. So, it is not unusual finding a family law attorney also giving moral and human support.
No matter how many cases may an attorney has handled, there will never be two alike. For this reason, their work days are not a routine, although they may follow a work-office schedule. Yet, it is not unusual for them to have their cell phones ringing any moment, any day with a desperate client at the other end seeking advice. A good family law attorney should be flexible when dealing with individuals under emotional stress and forget about the 8 am to 5 pm working schedules. On the other hand, they need to have excellent time management skills and also know how to evaluate the emergency of a client and set boundaries if needed so as to have time to live their own lives.
Typically, a family law attorney will be a great listener, an excellent litigator and a skilled negotiator.