Every human being’s existence has become a series of different moral and legal contractual obligations. Some of these are entered into unknowingly and with little thought, while others are the result of a good deal of time and consideration. Unfortunately, many of these situations have a tendency to end in an ugly manner and dealing with them can become very tricky. Perhaps the most sensitive of these contracts involve family matters, and dealing with the breakdown of these contracts often requires outside help. It is the job of family law attorneys to help individuals deal with matters pertaining to family issues when marriages, in particular, break apart.
Family law is one of the major branches within law and deals with a wide array of issues pertaining to families, marriages, and domestic relationships. Family law attorneys operate within this field and receive much the same legal education that any other lawyer would, with additional training geared toward legal issues that commonly affect families. Family law attorneys have to be able to deal with a wide range of family law issues including but not limited to the following:
- Nature of relationships such as marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and same-sex marriages
- Issues that come about in marriages such as abuse, legitimacy issues, surrogacy, and child abduction
- Termination of relationships through divorce, annulment, alimony, property disputes, and child custody
These family law areas can generally be broken down into three areas of emphasis; before the union, during the union, and the dissolution of the union. One of the biggest areas that family law attorneys deal with prior to any union is the use of a prenuptial agreement. Prenups, as they are commonly abbreviated, are used most often to determine prior to a marriage how the division of properties, spousal support, and child custody will be dealt with in the event the marriage or union comes to an end. Family law attorneys are often needed to help with prenuptial agreements given the legal status of the document and in order to help protect both sides as the document is drawn up.
Family law attorneys can also help individuals understand the different unions they can enter into when they are ready to make that step. In addition to a traditional marriage, there are several other types of legal unions that individuals can enter into that may require the knowledge of a family law attorney. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Common-law marriage: A legally recognized union even though no marriage ceremony has taken place. In some jurisdictions common-law marriages are legally binding, while carrying no legal consequence in others.
- Same-sex marriage: A legally recognized, or more often socially recognized, marriage between two individuals of the same biological sex.
- Civil union: A legal union designed primarily for same-sex couples, civil unions are legal states similar to marriage. However, in the U.S. a civil union is not recognized by the Federal government and there is no requirement for one state to recognize a civil union made official in another state.
- Domestic partnership: A legal partnership between two individuals who live together and have a common domestic life but are not joined together in a marriage or civil union.
- Cohabitation: This term most commonly refers to two individuals who live together but are not married.
A family law attorney may also be called upon to help a couple tackle issues that can arise throughout the course of a marriage, some good and some bad. Family law attorneys can help a couple enter into a surrogacy agreement by which another woman can help a couple who cannot have children themselves by carrying a baby to term for them. This can also work in the other direction, with attorneys helping protect the surrogate and her rights as well. Surrogacy is a tricky legal issue in the U.S., with states such as New York considering the practice illegal. Meanwhile, other states such as California and Florida embrace the role of surrogacy.
Attorneys are also necessary in many cases for couples wishing to welcome children into their marriage through the means of adoption. An adoption can be a lengthy legal process, and it is important to have a lawyer involved to ensure the process goes smoothly and that all parties are protected in the process.
Other issues tackled during the course of a marriage by family law attorneys include issues related to spousal abuse, child abuse, and child abduction.
One of the largest roles family law attorneys fill is in mitigating the dissolution of a marriage. When two individuals can no longer make it work, they seek out an annulment or divorce. Attorneys are also necessary to help carry out the division of assets such as properties, and help settle disputes surrounding children. These disputes include alimony and child support payments, as well as custody of the children and visitation rights.
Family law attorneys practice primarily in family courts. The family court circuit is often much busier than civil and criminal courts as they are used to decide the outcome and all manner of legal issues related to family law.
If you should find yourself in need of a family law attorney, click on over to Familylawattorney.com. Here you will find a wealth of resources to help you educate yourself about family law matters and, if necessary, find a good family law attorney to represent you in your case.