Family Law Legality
As the name implies, family law pertains to familial relationships and family-related matters. The majority of family law cases involve domestic relations between spouses, most often revolving around the complexities of divorces and legal separations, which include the division of assets, child custody, spousal and child support and termination of parental rights. Other common family law matters include property settlements, paternity, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse and juvenile adjudication.
Family Law Attorney
A family law attorney specializes in familial matters, which as mentioned above, primarily revolves around spousal divorce. Family lawyers spend the majority of their time mediating negotiations between family members, drafting correspondences and pleadings, and attending court hearings.
As is the case for attorney’s specializing in other areas of law, a family law attorney must hold a four-year degree, and an additional law school degree, which is most often the three-year Juris Doctor (JD). Passing a State bar examination will provide a license to practice, while ongoing Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits are often required by states for actively practicing family law attorneys. Further accreditations can be obtained on a voluntary basis.
What to Look for in a Family Law Attorney
One of the greatest assets in an outstanding family lawyer is that of being a skillful and compassionate mediator. As such, many family law attorneys also work as mediators or collaborative lawyers in conjunction with their private practice.
A good degree of experience specifically in family law is important, but in many ways, the most refined family law attorney is one who is knowledgeable in other areas of law (that some lawyers choose to solely practice), such as property and business matters, as these components often present themselves in divorce cases, especially if a family-owned business or corporation exists.
In criminal matters surrounding family law, such as domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, family attorneys should specialize in a single area.
Depending on the the state or country, family lawyers can seek out specialization accreditation. In the UK, for example, the Family Law Accreditation Scheme, deems those who are accredited have shown a high level of knowledge and experience in family legality.