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What does a family law attorney do?
Family law attorneys deal with issues related to family life and domestic relationships, including spousal relationships and parent-child relationships.
Marriage and divorce
Marriage and divorce come with a host of potential issues. The following are some of the most common issues to arise between spouses:
Prenuptial agreements: If you or your future spouse owns real estate, has significant income, or owns a business, drafting a prenuptial agreement can be beneficial. Although couples can put together the framework of an agreement on their own, they typically need separate lawyers to finalize a prenuptial agreement in court.
Annulment: An annulment legally dissolves a marriage by treating the arrangement as though it never existed. Annulment isn't possible in all cases, but a couple can pursue one in the case of misrepresentation, incest, bigamy, underage, or force. Annulments typically take place a short time into the marriage, and a state government or a church can grant an annulment.
Divorce: A divorce dissolves a marriage in one of 2 ways. All states allow for no-fault divorces, in which one spouse files for divorce by stating a general reason, such as the inability to get along in the relationship. Most states also allow for fault divorces, in which one spouse faults the other for desertion, adultery, cruelty, or another established reason.
Alimony: Also known as spousal support, alimony refers to the payments that one spouse provides for another after a divorce is finalized. Not all divorces include alimony, but this situation is common when one spouse earns a higher salary than the other.
Child support and child custody
When spouses divorce, questions of child custody and child support arise. Common family law issues include:
Child custody: One or both parents may be granted physical custody to determine whether the children will live with one or both parents and whether one parent will have visitation rights. One or both parents will also have legal custody, or the ability to make major decisions about the children's health care, education, and religion.
Child support: By law, noncustodial parents must contribute a monthly amount to help provide for the children's expenses. A family court will determine the payment amount.
Paternity: A paternity test determines the identity of a child's father and can factor into child custody and child support cases.
How are family law attorneys paid?
Family law professionals offer a number of payment arrangements to suit the financial needs of their clients. Common fee structures include:
An hourly rate. You pay for every hour your lawyer works on your case. This is the most common arrangement but it can vary by practice area.
A flat fee. You pay a fixed payment amount. This is usually only offered if a case is very simple, such as an uncontested divorce.
In addition, you may need to pay the following fees:
Retainer fees. This is an upfront cost to secure the lawyer's services. The cost of services is usually deducted from the retainer.
Consultation fees. Payable for the first meeting, whether you hire the lawyer or not. Many lawyers offer free consultations, so check this prior to booking an appointment.
Contingency fees. Payable if your case is won. These are not typically applied to family law cases, but they may be in rare circumstances.
Your legal fees will usually depend on the following:
How long have you practiced family law?
How regularly do you deal with many cases like mine?
Will you be handling my case, or will I be dealing with someone else in your office?
What are your payment options?
What special expertise can you bring to my case?
Qualities to look for in a family law attorney
As your potential family law attorney is answering your questions, you should assess their answers and behavior to decide whether they are the best lawyer for you.
The following qualities may indicate that this attorney is a good match:
Has experience dealing with cases similar to yours.
Listens to the answers to your questions and attends to your needs.
Puts you at ease and makes you feel comfortable expressing yourself.
Has a practical and logical plan for your case.
Interviewing multiple lawyers will help you find the best match for your unique case.
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OUR MISSION IS TO HELP YOU HAVE THE BEST RELATIONSHIP
What is the state of your relationship? Are you happy? Do you see a bright future and feel connected to your spouse, or is life hard?
First, you can use the marriage test to try and get a sense for the state of your relationship. Moving forward, working on the problems or making a change? its a big step.
Second, if you decide to start moving towards a break - take a look at your financial life .
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