While much of the focus in the US legal system is on criminal law, many other aspects of life are subject to laws, as well. The realm of family law is a good example. This area of the law focuses not on criminal behavior or personal injury, but on family relationships and interactions. It covers a broad range of topics, all of which are of a sensitive nature and must be handled with great care and expertise.
What Is Family Law?
Family law is a specific legal practice area that focuses on helping families deal with matters that arise between members. For instance, divorce and child custody agreements fall under this heading, but so do child adoption and much more. Not only does family law affect those who share blood or marital ties, but it can also affect those with casual relationships.
Exploring Family Law
Understanding what to expect with a family law attorney is important for clients. Below, we will explore some of the more common things that a family lawyer may do.
Divorce is rarely simple. It is fraught with tensions and high emotion and must be navigated very carefully to ensure an equitable outcome. A family law attorney will usually represent just one spouse in the divorce (each spouse should have their own attorney) and will work to ensure the best possible outcome for the client.
Mediation takes place before the divorce process and provides a way for spouses to come to an agreement on important matters. Spouses who can work together during this process often see faster results for their divorce case, as there are fewer considerations for the court, and often achieve more positive results overall.
Division of Marital Property
Marital property must be divided during a divorce, but this can be challenging for spouses to do on their own. A family law attorney can offer advice and guidance to help determine how property should be divided to achieve an equitable solution. Property can include physical assets, such as homes and vehicles, but also less tangible ones, such as investments and retirement accounts.
Division of Debt
Property is not the only thing married couples must be divided during a marriage. Debt must also be divided equitably. Debt distribution provides unique opportunities to offset property division, as well. For instance, in exchange for additional property or assets, one spouse may agree to take on a larger share of the marital debt.
While it goes by many names, spousal support (also called maintenance or alimony) represents one spouse’s financial obligation to support the other. In most cases, this financial support is awarded because the receiving spouse is unable to maintain their lifestyle due to a lack of income, employment prospects, or for other reasons determined by the court. A family law attorney can help set expectations for such support and pursue what is fair and equitable.
When children are involved in a divorce, complications and high emotions must be expected. One of the most important areas of focus is on child custody. Not only does this touch on which parent will be the primary custodian, but it will also determine how much say the noncustodial parent has in life decisions that affect the child.
The noncustodial parent is still a central, vital part of a child’s life. Therefore, the court will consider what is best in terms of visitation and create a schedule that supports the parent’s rights, while also supporting the best possible outcome for the child. Note that spouses can work together to create a visitation schedule that works for them (this is preferable), but if spouses are unable to agree, the court may set a visitation schedule for them.
Both spouses must provide the support that children require. Noncustodial parents will be required to provide financial support for their child(ren), and the amount paid will be based on a means test – a financial litmus test that determines the parent’s financial situation. Many factors go into determining the amount paid, but a family law attorney will help ensure that the child’s best interests are protected, while also supporting an equitable resolution.
In addition to the areas touched on above, a family law attorney can also work on cases that involve parenting plans, paternity testing, legal separations, prenuptial agreements, adoption, and foster care to name only a few.
The Specialized Help You Need
At Parikh & Prasad PC, we work with clients to find equitable solutions in divorces, but also serve our clients in many other areas of family law. We bring decades of experience to the table, helping ensure a positive outcome for each case. Contact us today to schedule your no-fee consultation and learn more about our services.