The most important thing in life is our family. Therefore, when legal matters such as divorce or separation interfere with family life, it is imperative to make sure that your family is in good hands.
If you are currently considering or in the process of a divorce or separation from your partner, you have likely shopped for lawyers, and were probably surprised to learn how many types of lawyers there are to choose from. In fact, the number of choices can be overwhelming when you’re trying to make the right choice for your family’s future.
One of the most important distinctions to make is the difference between a divorce lawyer and a family law attorney. Although some divorce lawyers are expanding their areas of expertise, traditionally a divorce lawyer only handles issues directly relating to divorce itself, while a family law attorney handles not only divorce, but also a variety of other legal issues that can arise during the course of a domestic relationship – whether or not divorce is a part of the equation.
Traditional Roles of a Divorce Lawyer
Traditionally, divorce lawyers have focused mainly on issues surrounding the divorce itself. However, as the structure of families in the US changes, some divorce lawyers are adapting by covering other areas of domestic law as well.
Dissolution of Marriage
This refers to the paperwork and court process of the divorce itself. Florida courts actually have many requirements for a divorce to be finalized, and a divorce lawyer will be familiar with this process and can help things run more smoothly.
Division of Marital Property
Division of marital property is often much more complex than it seems, and one of the trickier areas of divorce. Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that assets are divided in what is considered to be a fair manner. It is important to remember, though, that “fair” does not necessarily mean “equal.”
Child Custody and Support
If you and your ex-spouse have children together, child custody and support will need to be determined as a part of the divorce proceedings. A divorce lawyer will help arrange child custody, visitation schedules, and child support.
If one spouse has a significantly higher income or income potential, it is possible that spousal support, or alimony, will be required as a term of the divorce. A divorce lawyer can help negotiate alimony.
Roles of a Family Law Attorney
A family law attorney can help with all of the above divorce processes, plus many other family legal issues, even when divorce is not a part of the equation. These include:
Unmarried Separating Couples
If you are not married to your partner but have children together, child custody and support will still need to be arranged should you break up.
Sadly, domestic violence is very common in the US. If you are a victim of domestic violence, or are facing domestic violence accusations yourself, a family law attorney can help.
Adoption and Fostering
Interested in caring for a child who isn’t yours biologically. The legal processes involved in fostering or – especially – adopting a child can be complex, confusing, and potentially very expensive.
Do you know what kind of adoption service you want to work with? Are you looking for a child of a particular age? Does it matter if you get a boy or girl? What about their ethnic, racial, or national background?
All of these things can matter in terms of time, expense, and complexity. A knowledgeable family lawyer is a great resource to have on your side to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Determining the paternity of a child and laying the groundwork for parental rights and child support is a tricky process that requires legal action. A family law attorney can help with any issues you may have surrounding paternity.
There are often lingering legal issues after a divorce is finalized, particularly if children are involved, or one spouse has hidden assets. A family law attorney can help with legal issues that come up after divorce, known as post-divorce litigation.
These are just some of the many legal issues that a family law attorney can help you with. If you currently need help with a domestic legal situation, the best thing you can do to alleviate the issue is to reach out to a compassionate and experienced Florida family law attorney who can fight to help you protect your rights and secure your family’s future.