America is home to over 1.3 million registered lawyers. What this means is that every legal area is adequately stocked with talented and experienced professionals ready to represent clients. The same is true for family law.
Family law is also known as matrimonial law. It is a segment of the law that particularly deals with family matters and relationships. These are the laws governing family issues such as marriage, divorce, child support, adoption, and civil unions.
These laws vary depending on the state. However, they are made to preserve the rights of individual family members and uphold the interests of the family structure as a whole.
A family lawyer is a legal representative who specializes in family law. These lawyers are normally called upon when there is a legal dispute or issue involving family members that need to be resolved.
Many families are often unaware of the significance and role of a family lawyer. If you are unsure about whether you need one, here are seven signs that show you need a family lawyer.
1. Preparing for Marriage
Marriage seems like a straight-up ceremony celebrating matrimony, but it can be a complicated legal affair. Although it may seem odd, it makes sense to at least consult a family lawyer before proceeding to marriage.
The lawyer will guide you through the legal requirements for marriage in your home state. A family law attorney will also assist you in navigating the issues related to marriage and advice you on your legal responsibilities and rights.
A lawyer also comes in handy while preparing a prenup agreement before marriage. If your spouse and yourself are bringing into the marriage pre-owned assets, then it’s essential to draft a prenup agreement. The prenup decides how wealth will be divided in the unfortunate event of a divorce or death.
A prenup is especially useful if there is a steep imbalance of wealth between the spouses and if there are also other dependents from previous marriages. A family lawyer helps you protect your assets and secure your future throughout the union.
2. Forming a Civil Union or Domestic Partnership
Civil unions and domestic partnerships are types of status awarded at the state level to legally recognize two people who are living together but are not married to each other.
They are very similar to marriage but not branded or recognized as such. The legality and details of domestic partnerships vary from those of married couples and from state to state.
Originally, domestic partnerships were introduced by state laws to help same-sex partners enjoy married life, responsibilities, and rights without necessarily getting married. This was before the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriages.
Today, domestic partnerships present a different way of living away from the conformity of marital union. It is popular with celebrities and progressive pairs who want their partnership rights protected in a similar fashion as matrimonial rights.
Like marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships are a maze of legal compliance, requirements, and jurisdictions. Each state has different laws governing civil unions and domestic partnerships. Besides that, you still have to make preliminary legal frameworks such as prenups if necessary.
A family lawyer is well acquainted with matters of domestic relationships and civil unions. You need a family lawyer to guide you through the necessary legal processes.
3. When a Divorce is Looming
Many people associate family lawyers with divorce. And it’s easy to see why. Ending a marriage is a complicated legal affair that can easily take months or years to settle completely.
Legal issues mostly arise from dividing property and working out property ownership, child custody, and alimony.
Depending on the reasons for divorce, whether it’s spouse abuse, domestic conflicts, or negligence, each party is entitled to legal rights and liabilities. Divorce cases have been known to spiral out of control and lead to civil lawsuits that drain resources and time.
Verhaeghe Law, Family Lawyers will help you reach compromises and fair terms without going through lengthy court sessions.
Each spouse normally pairs up with a lawyer to help represent his/her interests. This is an excellent way to keep a handle on the situation. A family lawyer will communicate your demands and negotiate the terms on your behalf.
The lawyer should also advise you on the best course of action depending on the strength of your case. Even without a prenup, you have a right to protect your assets in a fair and considerate share.
4. Conflict Over Child Custody
The child custody battle usually comes after a divorce. Every parent has a legal right to protect and care for their children even when separated. And this is where the conflict begins.
However, child custody issues are not triggered by divorce alone. You could be fighting for custody against the state or other family members as well. The state can decide to take away your child through the Child Welfare Service if they suspect child abuse, negligence, or inability to support the child.
Family members, especially in-laws, may also try to take your child in the event of a broken marriage, or death of your spouse. This has been known to happen with many families.
In a child custody suit, the state or court will require you to prove that you can support the child and secure his/her future. A family lawyer will take you through the step-by-step procedure of getting full custody of your child.
If you are wrongfully accused of negligence or child abuse, the lawyer will see to it that you are proven innocent. This will also prevent the case from escalating to a criminal lawsuit.
5. Beginning the Adoption Process
Child adoption is a strenuous legal process that could take several months to finalize. Many attempts at adoption actually fail due to legal issues. You have to prove to the child welfare services or the state that you are physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially capable of taking care of an adopted child.
The process involves filing a ton of paperwork and presenting documents to the relevant authorities. There may arise disputes that require extra work and time. For instance, the parents or guardians of the child may reject you on legal grounds, or may even try to extort or threaten you.
You may be required to attend a few court hearings to settle differences and to support your claims. This is where a family lawyer comes in.
A lawyer will help you fill in all the paperwork accurately, and make a favorable case for you in court. He/she will see to it that you earn custody as a guardian without too much expense on your time.
6. Drafting Estate Plan and Wills
Drafting and updating estate plans and wills is a continuous process. It ensures that your assets are protected once you have passed away or are incapable of taking action or making decisions.
A will describes how your assets will be divided among your dependents. An estate plan is a more elaborate version of the will that describes the management and ownership of all assets. An estate plan protects your heirs from liabilities and legal issues arising from the transfer of ownership.
An estate plan and a will are two critical documents that every loving family woman or family man should have.
Preparing these documents, however, can be quite challenging if you don’t even know where to begin. On top of that, the validity of wills and estate plans hinge on the legal processes followed in creating them.
A family lawyer will advise you on how to prepare wills and estate plans. The lawyer will also assist you in legally validating the documents.
7. You Need a Family Lawyer If Everyone Else Lawyers Up
If you are having a family dispute, such as property settlements, custody agreements and everyone else lawyers up, you should do the same. This means that things have gotten serious and you need expert help to resolve your issues.
Family lawyers are excellent at settling family conflicts without necessarily taking matters to court. A family lawyer can act as a mediator to resolve legal arguments and disputes among family members.
Although, if legal implications or obligations emerge, it is usually a good idea to take them up with the judicial system. But even then, you’ll still need a lawyer to represent you in a court of law.
Why Pay a Family Lawyer?
A family lawyer is best suited to handling family relationships and conflicts among family members. Such a lawyer will have your family’s best interest at heart while still advocating for each individual’s rights and interests. This is why you need a family lawyer to settle domestic disputes and family-related disagreements.
Besides settling arguments, a family lawyer should also advise you on making the right decisions when it comes to legal processes. For instance, if you are looking to establish a family trust or use legal documents or assets under the family name or ownership.
While you’re here, continue reading to learn more about family law and how to settle legal disputes.