Is there any difference between a family lawyer and a divorce attorney?
The short answer is yes. The word divorce literally means the separation, but family law and divorce attorneys generally handle matters far past marriage break-outs. If you or your spouse has filed for divorce, a family lawyer is the person to be contacted to help you through the process. While divorce laws vary from state to state, the basic concepts are similar enough that having a family lawyer help you understand what’s happening can make the experience less stressful.
If you are considering filing for divorce, a lawyer may suggest that you seek the advice of someone with the same expertise as you. If this sounds like good advice, think about it. Family lawyers typically have many years of experience dealing with the complexities of divorce, and they are very familiar with family courts in the area where they practice. A divorce attorney has seen just about everything that could go wrong during a divorce, so he or she will be able to advise you on the most effective way to proceed. If you’re not sure what to ask for in your case, a divorce attorney may be able to steer you in the right direction on what it is you need in order to get what’s fair and right in your own eyes.
A family lawyer may help you prepare and testify in court
If you’re married for some time, you may already know some of the questions that your family law attorney may ask you. For instance, he or she may help you answer the age-old question: What happened to my wife when we went out of town on a date? There are a number of factors that may influence how long it takes for a divorce to be finalized, including how long one or both of the spouses lived with the other and how frequently they were together. A family lawyer may help you prepare and testify in court, as well as making sure everything is settled in your name (this is especially important for any children who are involved in the divorce proceedings).
Another area that family law attorneys may deal with is alimony. Alimony is payments paid by one spouse (alimony payer) to another (non-alimony payee). Alimony was traditionally set up to help low-earners in a relationship to maintain a standard lifestyle, but the current definition of alimony now considers it an economic obligation of the spouse seeking the payment. As with divorce, alimony is determined by the judge based on an analysis of the income and expenses of both spouses. If one spouse is unable to sustain the standard of living established during the marriage, they are usually awarded additional money by the judge.
child custody and visitation
Finally, a good divorce attorney will be familiar with child custody and visitation. Custody refers to who makes decisions for the children, while visitation is the time when the children visit with their custodial parent. Each state establishes its own guidelines for determining which parent the child will live with. Again, each family law attorney will have their own expertise in this area. Because children can become emotionally and psychologically impacted by divorce, it is very important for a divorce attorney to be knowledgeable and experienced in child custody and visitation issues.
Last, but certainly not least, a good divorce attorney will know how to use the persuasive strategies of mediation and collaborative divorce. Mediation generally involves the divorcing spouses meeting with an impartial third party to talk through their concerns. Through negotiation and compromise, the two sides may come to an agreement that meets the needs of all parties involved and is in the best interests of the children. If you are considering a collaborative divorce or other negotiated arrangements, it is critical that your family law attorney has experience using these persuasive strategies.