What is A Family Law Attorney?
Family law relates to issues regarding marriage and children. It can involve anything from divorce to child support, to guardianship issues, and domestic violence. Family law disputes can be litigated, but they often also end up in mediation, which is when a neutral, third party (called the mediator) helps two parties reach an agreement on a dispute between the two.
Mediation tends to be less costly and time-consuming than litigation, but it is not always the correct or most feasible option.
What type of cases do family law attorneys handle?
Family law attorneys handle cases such as:
- Annulment of a marriage
- Child custody
- Child support, including modification of or termination of an order
- Spousal support, including modification of or termination of an order
- Visitation rights
- State child protection
- Domestic violence prosecution or defense
- Restraining orders
Why would I need a family law attorney? What is the benefit?
Disputes involving family law often become very contentious. The parties involved may be unable or unwilling to work with each other. A qualified family law attorney is not only educated in the law surrounding a particular dispute, but he or she is often well-versed in dealing with contentious opposing counsel and opposing parties.
Since family law is complex, especially when it comes to involved children, a family law attorney will be able to help you understand the law surrounding your particular issue. Furthermore, your family law attorney will explain the options you have as well as the consequences of each of those options.
Most importantly, a family law attorney will advocate for your best interest in a way which you may not be able to, whether it is because of lack of knowledge or too much emotion. Your family law attorney will be able to state your position to a judge, jury, or other neutral third party, without allowing the communication of the issues to be clouded by strong emotions.
These disputes are often challenging and stressful. Your family law attorney will also provide you with the emotional support needed, helping you to remain positive while still being realistic. He or she will also help you be aware of what to expect at all phases of the case, whether it is being litigated in court or going to mediation.
What is the legal process involved in a family law case?
Because each case is different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the legal process involved. Some family law cases will be litigated in court whereas others may end up in mediation or another alternative to courtroom proceedings.
The method of resolving a family law dispute is highly dependent on the specific facts of each case. For example, if the two parties involved have a good relationship and are able to get along well, the dispute may end up in mediation which is more appropriate for parties that are amicable and able to reach an agreement calmly and rationally. However, if the two parties are unable to work together and unable to agree, the case may have to be litigated in front of a judge.
One example of this situation is modifying a support order. If the two parties are able to agree on a modification of a spousal support or child support order, the two parties may put their new agreement in writing and submit it to a family law judge. However, if the two parties are unable to agree on a modification, the issue may have to be brought to family court for a family law judge to make a determination, based on certain important factors as set forth under California law, on what the support order modification should be.
Can the San Fernando Valley Bar Association (SFVBA) help me find the right Family Law attorney?
The Attorney Referral Service of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association will help you find the family law attorney that meets your needs during the life changing time.
The Attorney Referral Service is a non-profit public service of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. For a modest $30 fee, you will receive a referral to a highly experienced family law attorney. The referral includes a thirty-minute in-office consultation between you and the attorney. Our trained staff will coordinate this appointment for you. It is confidential, fast, easy and convenient