What does a family lawyer do?
You’ve probably heard other people speak about “my lawyer” or “my solicitor” when telling you about their family law problems. But what does a family lawyer or family law solicitor actually do?
Can they do something for you?
If you have separated from your partner or are considering separation, it would be very wise to take preliminary advice from an experienced family lawyer. You can ask the family lawyer about matters concerning the breakdown of your relationship, including parenting arrangements for the children, your property settlement rights and obligations, and whether or not child support is payable to you or by you. You may also wish to ask a family lawyer about filing a divorce application for you or helping you to manage your own divorce.
A family lawyer is a Solicitor who has a particular interest and skill in family law work. They often can assist you with matters relating to family law, for example, preparing a new Will for you, acting on your behalf on the sale of the family home, or payment of settlement monies to the other party.
1. Handling Divorce Issues
Undergoing a divorce is probably one of the most draining experiences that a family can face. Emotions may set in and make it impossible for a couple to settle it calmly. In such a case, a family law attorney can act as a mediator, and assist them to approach the issue rationally and within the law. In other words, a competent family law attorney can assist couples in the process of divorcing to settle the matter fairly without necessarily going to court. Consult Austin Lawyer Referral Service to refer you to a knowledgeable family lawyer.
2. Handling Estates and Wills
A will is a legal document through which people state how they would wish their property to be managed when they die. Family law attorneys are responsible for assisting people in drafting these documents. They also have what it takes to ensure that an estate is administered as stated by a deceased via the will.
3. Handling Child Custody Agreements
When a couple separates, one of the most difficult issues to handle has to be what happens to the children. Couples need to agree on how to take care of the children they have had together in the new arrangement. Child custody is defined by an agreement in which both parents have to live with the terms therein. A competent family lawyer can help parents that are parting ways to draft such an agreement. A family law attorney can also help parents in amending child custody agreements if need be.
4. Handling Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed by a couple prior to a marriage or a civil union. Although the content of such a contract may vary from one case to another, its main aim is to spell out the provisions of spousal support and division of the property in the event of a breakup or a divorce. A family lawyer can assist a couple in drafting a prenuptial agreement and handling any matters that may arise from the contract according to the law.
5. Represent Litigants in Court
Although family attorneys can help people to settle family disputes outside court, some of these matters still end up in the courts. In such a case, family lawyers are best suited to help litigants get justice. These attorneys handle such cases almost every other day, and therefore, they have the necessary legal knowledge and practical experience to help litigants to navigate the complex jungles of the family law and ensure that justice is served accordingly.
What is a Family Lawyer?
Family Lawyers are responsible for dealing with legal issues that arise between members of the same family. They represent clients in court for contentious cases concerning divorce and domestic violence, but also oversee family estates and offer advice on areas such as adoption and guardianship.
Family Lawyers work with a range of clients including vulnerable individuals such as children and the elderly, advising them on their options and rights. The duties of a family law practitioner can vary greatly from case to case; however, the key responsibilities of a Family Lawyer usually include:
• Attempting to resolve complex claims and reach settlement outside of court through alternative dispute resolution.
• If no settlement can be reached, proceeding the case in court, representing your clients and carrying out all duties associated with Dispute Resolution or Litigation Lawyers.
• Drafting, negotiating, and reviewing court documents such as pleadings or witness statements.
• Liaising with a variety of other professionals including psychologists, doctors, social workers, and police officers.
• Researching historic cases that bare resemblance to your ongoing files.
• Examining and evaluating any evidence that may prove beneficial to your clients.
• Effectively and empathetically managing emotionally unpredictable situations.
How to Become a Family Lawyer
As with becoming a Lawyer in other practice areas, you will first need to complete your undergraduate degree in law followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC). If you studied a subject other than law at university, you must undertake a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before you can begin studying the LPC.
Following completion of the LPC, you will need to apply for a training contract at a specialist family practice or with a family law team in a multi-service firm.
Read our article on How to Become a Solicitor to find out more.
Good qualities to look for:
Moving onto the concept of responsiveness and availability, is your lawyer available when you need them to be? This can be a bit of a catch-22 for lawyers because the more successful they are, the more in-demand they tend to be! This should not become detrimental to you. We believe this concept is more than simply being able to answer the phone when you call. This is where a good team working together becomes important. Multiple points of contact within the firm can be a good way to maintain availability.
What about communication? If your lawyer doesn’t communicate with you regularly, you won’t have a clue what’s going on. On the other hand, if they keep in regular contact but keep explaining things to you in complex legal jargon you’ll probably feel even more confused. If they’re able to speak to you in a clear, easy-to-understand manner, without being condescending you’ve found a winner!
The fourth important factor to look for in a quality family lawyer is efficiency. According to Klient Kulture’s survey on past legal clients, inefficiency can be a real deal breaker for clients. Efficiency is extremely important, especially where you’re being billed by the hour. It can also often become an outcome of how well the other factors are being managed!
This last one goes for any professional field, not just lawyers. Connection. It’s such a simple concept, but families who just want someone to get the job done often overlook it. There’s nothing worse than doing business with someone you can’t stand, so hiring a family lawyer who you genuinely get along with and share similar values with is important. When it comes to family law, clients often cite empathy as a big part of the connection they want to feel with their lawyer. This is because they want to work with someone who genuinely understands their specific circumstances and cares enough to want a positive outcome. They don’t want their lawyer to strive for success because a win is a win, they want that win to mean something on a more human level, to everyone involved.
Family Law Gov Links: Here