It might seem as if the term “family lawyer” would be used to describe an attorney who works for everyone in a family or a person who is a member of your family and happens to work as an attorney. Though these scenarios are possible, the term “family lawyer” refers to someone who actually specializes in family law. The field of family law relates to topics including divorce, custody, visitation rights, spousal and child support, division of assets in divorce, protection from abuse, and paternity issues.
Many family lawyers choose their field because they want to work with the “human side” of the law. It can be extremely challenging to practice family law because attorneys must connect with and support their clients during very emotional times in life. Family lawyers see people at their best and worst, and help these people transition through some of the most challenging phases of life. Despite its challenges, most family lawyers find a great deal of emotional reward in their work.
What Makes a Good Family Lawyer?
Like all attorneys, some family lawyers are more talented and successful than their peers. The best family lawyers have top-notch skills when it comes to negotiation and litigation. They must be good at time management and understand interpersonal communication. In addition to legal counsel, family lawyers often provide emotional support during a client’s most challenging life events. It also helps if a family attorney has an understanding of financial and real estate laws, though most attorneys have a network of expert resources at their disposal when questions arise.
As families continue to evolve, the practice of family law also changes. Trends in the field of family law include collaborative law, a practice that helps couples divorce and legally separate without traditional litigation. A family law attorney’s role is different in cases where collaborative law is used, as opposed to litigation. In some cases, the lawyer might even act as a mediator and work for both partners, as opposed to representing one or the other.
Nearly 50% of all first marriages end in divorce*. The odds are even greater for second and third marriages. Approximately 40% of all couples in the United States are step couples. The ongoing making and breaking of families creates complicated family ties and creates a need for legal protection as things change. Family lawyers provide the guidance and support these changing families need.