While these terms are often used interchangeably, divorce is actually a subset of family law. A divorce lawyer is a family law lawyer who does divorce. Most attorneys who practice family law handle divorce and divorce is usually the primary or main subset of work that a family law attorney does. However, a family law attorney usually does more than divorce.
Family Law encompasses divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, paternity (establishing the legal father/child relationship), adoption, guardianship, orders of protection and other things.
The short answer is no. The term “divorce” contemplates the dissolution of marriage, but both divorce and family law attorneys typically handle matters far beyond marriage break-ups. They may handle disputes involving unmarried parties who co-habit, as well as child custody and child support matters. A divorce lawyer is a family law lawyer who does divorce.
The terms “Divorce Lawyer”, “Family Law Attorney” or “Family Divorce Lawyer” are used interchangeably throughout the legal industry. They are not intended to represent greater or lesser degrees of capability on the part of the attorney or lawyer in question. Most attorneys who practice family law handle divorce and divorce is usually the primary or main subset of work that a family law attorney does. Which is how the title “divorce attorney” became so popular.
When Should I Hired A Family Law Attorney?
Divorce and Dissolution
Family law attorneys advise their clients on important financial and personal matters related to divorce. Including division of assets and debts, property, and separating the personal and financial affairs. A family law lawyer can also help with the award of the family home and mortgage, family and child support, and custody processes during a divorce.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony, sometimes referred to as maintenance, is a type of spousal support that where the spouse that makes significantly more income than the other pays to their soon-to-be ex to allow them to continue living under similar living conditions. Most jurisdictions have a time limit on when this begins to kick in, such as 7 or 10 years. Alimony can be permanent or temporary in nature.
Child Custody, Parental Rights, and Grandparent Rights
In addition to custody decisions resulting from divorce, dissolution, or separation of biological parents, family law attorneys advise in situations in which other family members (such as grandparents) may need or wish to be granted legal custody of children. These may be temporary or permanent arrangements.
In contrast to custody, adoption involves an adult becoming the full legal parent of a child. It usually requires one or more of the biological parents to abdicate their parental status, either voluntarily or involuntarily (if certain statutory requirements are met).
Child Support, Custody, and Visitation
Protecting a child’s well being or one’s own parental rights frequently requires the help of a family law attorney. Whether you are owed child support or are seeking/disputing custody or visitation rights, only an experienced attorney can provide the legal insight necessary to protect your family.
Domestic Abuse and Civil Protection Orders
Domestic abuse is never acceptable. If you or someone in your family has been abused, or you fear abuse is imminent, contact your local police department or an attorney.
In domestic abuse situations, a family law attorney can help you safely escape a dangerous situation. This may include assistance with obtaining protection orders to prevent future contact, seeking direct compensation for injuries and abuse, and any other remedy available under the law.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the legal scenarios covered under family law. If you’re still not sure whether an attorney can help in your situation, a consultation is the best way to determine your next steps. Experienced lawyers can quickly assess the risks of your case and explain them in layman’s terms, helping you make an informed decision.