What is a Family Lawyer?
A family lawyer is someone who specializes primarily in handling legal matters surrounding the family unit. Divorce and child custody are the most obvious reasons people think of needing a family lawyer. However, family lawyers handle a variety of matters including, adoption, marriage annulments (as opposed to divorce), paternity and prenuptial agreements. Especially for gay and lesbian couples, family lawyers can also assist with cohabitation agreements and domestic partner registration. Family lawyers may also handle estate planning by creating wills and trusts.
Family law encompasses marriage, adoption, divorce, custody, death, and estate planning. Laws on these topics vary from state to state. Most states define marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman to become husband and wife. The traditional way to marry is to get a marriage license from a state-authorized official, then participate in a formal civil or religious wedding ceremony.
When Should you hire a Family Lawyer?
A family lawyer should be consulted whenever a family dispute arises or when a dispute is anticipated. For example, an individual considering a divorce may want to consult with an attorney before making intentions known to his or her spouse. This is important because in community property states, such as California, transferring property just before a divorce can lead to problems once the divorce is actually filed. Early consultation can make a family transition much easier. However, a family lawyer may be consulted for positive reasons as well, such as adoption or simply creating a will.