What is a Family Law Attorney?
A family lawyer or family law attorney helps clients with legal issues that relate to their family relationships, such as child custody or divorce. They can represent clients in court proceedings, advocate for them during negotiations, draft documents such as petitions and property agreements, and provide general legal counsel.
What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?
Family lawyers assist with a wide variety of legal issues involving family relationships. Some specialize in areas like divorce or adoption, while others have experience in many aspects of family law in a given locale.
There are many overlapping types of family lawyers:
1. Child Custody Lawyer
If you are a divorced parent or a non-parent family member who wishes to be the primary caregiver for a child, you will most likely want to work with a child custody lawyer. Often, child custody is a contentious issue with more than one party hoping to win custody.
Sometimes child custody issues can be resolved through mediation or by petitioning the court. In other cases, you may need to present your case before a judge. Either way, we always recommend hiring a family lawyer with experience in child custody issues to advocate for your interests, assist with legal paperwork, and help you deal with any legal complications.
2. Divorce Lawyer
A divorce attorney advises their clients on the many financial and personal matters that arise during the legal separation process, such as dividing assets and debts, making child custody agreements, and awarding child support or alimony. They often represent divorcing spouses in mediation or court.
A family law attorney can also assist unmarried couples who cohabited for long periods of time. Many of the same legal issues arise when couples dissolve long-term partnerships.
3. Adoption Lawyer
Adoption lawyers help their prospective adoptive parents through the process of legally adopting a child. The adoption process in Washington State requires filing a petition with the court, attending a hearing, and often handling legal paperwork from social workers or biological parents.
Adoption is a legally complex process that depends on state laws, whether and how the child is related to the adopting parent, where the child is from, and many other factors. The simplest cases are usually foster parents adopting their foster children, but even that process can quickly grow complicated if the biological parents decide to become involved. We do not recommend attempting to adopt a child without legal consultation.
4. Paternity Lawyer
If a child’s parents disagree over who the father is or how much responsibility the father has in the child’s life, they often turn to the legal system and seek help from a family lawyer.
Single mothers may file paternity cases in an attempt to get financial assistance from an absent father. In other cases, fathers may file for paternity to have a relationship with their child. A family lawyer who has experience with paternity cases can help a parent argue for child support or more involvement in the child’s life.
5. Pre- and Post-nuptial Agreement Lawyer
Before getting married, fiancés sometimes make a legal agreement about their legal rights upon marrying, how some property will be protected in the event of bankruptcy, and how property will be divided in the event of a separation or death. A postnuptial agreement is similar, except that it is entered into after the couple is married.
Family lawyers with experience in pre- and post-nuptial agreements can help the couple draft an agreement and handle any legal issues that may arise from the contract. These agreements supersede many of the default marital laws that would otherwise apply in the event of a divorce or death.
Looking for a Family Law Attorney in the Puget Sound Region?
The Anderson Hunter Law Firm includes several highly qualified family law attorneys who have experience in all areas of family law practice. Reach out to us today if you are looking for legal counsel in Snohomish, King, Skagit, Island, or San Juan County.