A family law attorney represents clients in matters related to families, including divorce, child support, child custody, dependency, and adoption. Dependency law relates to the state’s protection of a child in a dangerous situation, such as a parent’s substance abuse. Child custody law relates to how parents seek to split custody of a child.
Some family law attorneys work on the estate and trust side of the spectrum. They help clients draft wills and trusts to give away property to family. The two basic types of trusts are testamentary trusts, which take effect after the person giving away property passes, and living trusts, which can be in effect while the person giving away property is still alive.
A family law attorney can draft a prenuptial or custody agreement. They can assist a client with getting or fighting a restraining order. A restraining order has the potential to significantly affect a divorce case as well as a child custody case.
Some family law attorneys specialize in cases involving children and teens with severe medical issues, mental health issues, and developmental disabilities. These attorneys should have some knowledge of how to advise parents about disability law, particularly applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). An attorney should later work with the family to create a Medicaid special needs trust. Such a trust ensures a Medicaid beneficiary is not disqualified for Medicaid long-term care for having too many assets.
A family law attorney has experience going to court to represent a client in hearings and trials. They also have experience in negotiation and settlement. Some family law attorneys work as certified mediators. Mediation involves two parties coming together outside of court to resolve a dispute. A client can hire a family law attorney to advise them about how to engage in self-representation.
There are family law attorneys who represent clients in bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy cases are filed in federal court rather than state court. A Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy may accompany a divorce if the couple had significant debts.
A family law attorney who is working on a complex divorce case may bring in assistance on financial matters. They may consult a tax attorney regarding unpaid taxes or an accountant or financial advisor on a client’s next steps after the divorce. The attorney will speak to a forensic accountant if it appears the client’s former spouse is hiding assets.
A client who wants to hire a family law attorney should look for a person who is patient and good at listening. It is important to hire an attorney who understands the dynamics of family interactions. The client should find someone familiar with the rules and formatting requirements of local courts. Also, it is a good idea to hire a local divorce attorney in Huntsville, or wherever you live, who knows the local judges and how to appeal a ruling.
Family law is one of the most emotionally wrenching fields of law. A client can avoid trauma by hiring a family law and divorce attorney who is kind. A little bit of empathy makes a big difference.