When you think about the phrase “family law” your mind might automatically turn to divorce. While it is one of the most obvious reasons you would approach an attorney specializing in this field, it is not the only reason. You don’t have to be ending your marriage to consult one of these highly skilled representatives.
Unless you plan to adopt from the state’s child welfare services, chances are you will need to hire an attorney. There are several steps one must take in an adoption process, and someone who is trained in this area can help you navigate the system. It still takes time for the process to be finalized. However, this individual will ensure all the paperwork is completed and filed appropriately so that you can add to your family.
If you are a stepparent who wishes to adopt your stepchild, the steps differ from those for bringing a child into your home. It is still in your best interest to rely on the advice of an attorney in order to ensure you are now the legal parent of that child.
Family law also extends to name changes. While the courthouse office that issues marriage licenses can easily guide you through the process of changing your last name after marriage, there is not a lot of information on how to change it any other time. There are many reasons you may want to change your name legally. Remember, you can call yourself whatever you want, but the government won’t recognize it unless you go through the paperwork to make it so.
Sometimes you may be in a situation where you need legal protection from a former lover or family member. You can do this through a protection or restraining order. It is easy to get a temporary order by going to the courthouse. However, making it permanent is not as easy. The judge will want to hear all sides of the case and then may only extend the protection from six months to a year. Having an attorney who is trained in this area of the law can help you get adequate legal protection from your abuser.
Pre-marital agreements are not just for the rich in order to protect their assets. On the contrary, these can be drawn up and entered into by anyone who has stipulations on the marriage. More often than not, the main goal is to keep one spouse from taking too much money from the other spouse in the event of a divorce. However, other stipulations such as reasons for ending the marriage and how the property is divided based on fault can be included. Someone who is trained in family law will be able to ensure the entire document is legally binding.
Of course, the most common area of domestic law is custody arrangements within divorce settlements. Divorce is hard on everyone, but it is especially difficult on the kids who are used to having both parents under one roof. An attorney can help you and your former spouse sort out what is best not just for yourselves, but for any children involved. This includes who is going to have primary custody, what visitation looks like, and how child support is handled. They will also help negotiate who contributes to what aspects of the child’s health, dental, and vision insurance or care.
Family law isn’t just about divorce. Instead, it covers a wide array of areas that include adding children into your family and protecting yourself and your loved ones.