When it comes to laws, there are many different kinds. For instance, matters related to employment most often under Labor and Employment Laws, matters related to contracts under Civil Law, and those situations involving crimes…criminal law.
Family law advice
Another significant set of laws is known as Family Law. These laws set forth rules, regulations, codes, processes and procedures related to such common topics as:
- Marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and other legal relationships
- Divorce, separation and annulment
- Custody of children
- Child and spousal support
Family law also extends to other areas such as adoption, cohabitation, emancipation of minors, reproductive rights, child abuse, domestic violence, foster care, guardianship, paternity, surrogacy and artificial conception. When facing these types of situation and due to the complex nature of family laws, when facing legal situations with any of the above topics, it is very important to seek out the guidance of a skilled family lawyer.
So what are some of the common areas of family law and reasons that it may be time to seek the guidance of a family lawyer?
- You have made the decision to get married and have assets that you wish to protect before entering the marriage. In this situation, you may need a prenuptial agreement, which can be very complex and require specific knowledge of laws and drafting the agreements.
- You and your spouse have decided to end your marriage (annulment or divorce) and you have assets, property, debt and children. These will likely involve many complex laws spanning dissolution, separation or property, assets, finance and debts, child and spousal support (alimony), custody and visitation of the children, and more. In addition to the family laws, there are also procedures that must be carefully followed related to filing, notices, responding to requests, hearings, motions, depositions, discovery, evidence, and much more. Add all of this to the usual highly emotional state of mind that divorcing couples face and you can quickly understand the importance of involving a family lawyer.
- You have a minor child who is 17 years old and you, your spouse and the child wish to legally emancipate them. Thus, providing them with the legal right to be responsible for themselves. In essence, the parents are no longer legally responsible for the child. This area is very delicate and judges are faced with determining whether they believe that emancipating the child is in their best interest and whether or not the child is responsible, mature, and able to care for themselves financially.
Family lawyers are specialized in various areas of family law, thus may be generalists (handle multiple areas such as marital agreements, issues related to minors, paternity, and divorce) while others may focus in on a couple areas (child custody, visitation, support, minor’s rights).
As with other areas of law, family lawyers are required to complete law school (three years of full-time study, although there are some alternative programs such as California’s four-year alternative education programs) and then pass their state’s bar exam.
Becoming a family lawyer happens after graduating from law school. Experience is usually gained by working for a law firm that specializes in or offers family law services. Experience can also be gained by working at Family Law Clinics, Family Mediation Programs, and other family law related community services.
At this point, the lawyers build their knowledge of the specific state family laws and procedures as well as working with clients and negotiating. Some lawyers work primarily in the offices, others spend quite a bit of time in court, and some do both.
If you are considering entering the field of family law, it is important to understand that although family lawyers are critical parts of the legal process, they are also involved in highly charged and emotional scenarios on a regular basis. Thus, having excellent interpersonal skills and excellent ability managing emotionally volatile situations are critical.