Many people think of family lawyers as divorce attorneys, but a family law attorney represents clients in a wide array of family legal matters including more positive aspects of law, such as child adoption. Family lawyers are among the most commonly consulted attorneys. Unlike personal injury lawyers, a family lawyer cannot work on a contingency fee basis—while personal injury lawyers can take their fee out of the compensation they secure for a client, no such compensation awards exist in family law. Instead, hiring a family lawyer requires an initial consultation and hourly fees for their legal services, similar to a criminal attorney’s representation.
Family relationships are often complex and evolving. For instance, most couples can’t imagine their journey down the aisle will end in divorce court, but sometimes goals change and spouses drift apart or experience insurmountable problems. Family law attorneys represent divorcing clients with all aspects of a divorce, including child custody, child support, division of marital assets, and spousal maintenance.
Divorce and its contentious issues make up a significant portion of cases in most family law firms; however, family law attorneys also represent clients in the following:
Each state has laws regulating common family law matters within the state that may differ slightly or substantially from those in other states, such as differing requirements for the division of marital assets in a divorce. Family attorneys must also stay up to date on the ever-evolving dynamics of family law in their state as well as the changing dynamics of today’s non-traditional families.
Helping families resolve their conflicts includes court litigation for many aspects of family law so family lawyers are among the most versatile attorneys, often representing clients in several different matters over decades of their family life in court and in out-of-court negotiation and mediation.
Most family attorneys also have experience in finance since part of the discovery process in divorce cases requires full financial disclosures from both parties and an understanding of asset and property division as well as separating marital property from each spouse’s separate property.
When you need an attorney for a divorce, child adoption, prenuptial agreement, or other family law matter, it’s important to read client testimonials and review the attorney’s track record in cases similar to your own. Your state’s bar association website should include a tool for ensuring an attorney’s status with the state bar remains in good standing.
Family law is often emotionally charged. An experienced Chandler family law attorney is compassionate and communicates openly and honestly about all aspects of a client’s legal issue, keeping them up to date on the progress of their case and remaining available for legal counsel throughout the process.