What is family law?

Understanding the types of cases covered under the blanket heading of family law can prove useful for potential clients. Family law deals with a number of serious issues that involve marital status, the care of dependent children and adults, juvenile delinquency and youthful misdeeds, adoption, divorce, and annulment. Here are some of the most common areas in which the services of a family law specialist may be required.

Marriage and divorce

An attorney who specializes in family law may be called upon to draw up prenuptial agreements to ensure fair distribution of property between spouses in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. These legal professionals can also manage any name changes that arise from marriage and can provide support for those going through separation or divorce proceedings. During a divorce, the lawyers for both parties may seek depositions from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the difficulties in the failed marriage. This evidence can be used to ensure a fair division of marital assets and to determine fault if it exists and is relevant. Spousal support agreements can also be managed more easily with the help of an experienced family law professional.


Bringing a new child into the family can be a complex legal process. An experienced lawyer can often streamline this undertaking by providing assistance with all necessary paperwork and by ensuring that required payments and documentation are delivered to the appropriate agencies. This is especially important for private adoption proceedings or for parents who want to adopt a baby from overseas. Navigating the adoption process successfully can prevent serious disappointments and can provide prospective parents with the chance to make a real difference in the life of a child.

Child welfare

Determining which parent should have custody of children in a divorce or arranging for joint custody also falls under the category of family law. In most states, divorcing parents are required to attend classes designed to help them navigate the process in the least damaging way for their children. Family law attorneys can provide support in identifying the most effective ways to protect children and to ensure their welfare during the determination of custody. For children who have experienced legal difficulties, retaining a lawyer to represent their cases can often result in more beneficial treatment within the court system and can sometimes prevent black marks against their legal record. Voluntarily accepting a diversion program or opting for an expungement at a later date can reduce the risk that youthful misdeeds will follow juvenile offenders throughout their lives.

Elder care

Another area of interest in the family law category is the care of older adults, especially those who require help in managing their daily activities. Determining the best use of available financial resources can be difficult. A qualified family law specialist can often help children of aging parents identify the most effective ways to manage medical and living expenses and can allow greater peace of mind for all members of the family. Family law also encompasses medical directives and, in some cases, the preparation of wills and trusts to preserve financial resources for aging individuals and their families. By assigning a power of attorney to a trusted family member, older adults can often reduce their personal responsibilities and can ensure that their affairs are handled appropriately even in cases of Alzheimer’s and other deteriorative mental disorders.
Family law specialists provide expert advice and help in navigating the complexities of the legal system. Because these attorneys have experience in dealing with these sensitive issues, they can proceed with tact and care in providing counsel for families in a wide range of situations. By consulting with a family law attorney, parents and children can resolve their issues and enjoy greater peace of mind in the legal environment.