Legal Advising

What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?

Family law is a people-focused field. JDB Law, PLLC who practice in this area of law work closely with clients and must possess empathy and a nonjudgmental attitude.

The concept of what constitutes a family is evolving. While the majority of people agree that a husband, wife, and children make up a family, some individuals are seeking legal recognition for unions other than marriage (see Glendon 1989). These developments require attention by family lawyers.


One of the most common cases handled by family lawyers is divorce. A divorce ends a marriage and has far-reaching effects on spouses, children and other relatives. Divorce lawyers often need to work with financial professionals to help their clients divide up property and determine how to distribute assets fairly. They also handle child custody and visitation cases that decide how parents will make decisions about their kids.

Another big area for family law is domestic violence and abuse. Suppose a spouse or partner is threatening or hurting the other members of the household. In that case, the family lawyer can file restraining orders and other legal protections in court to keep people safe.

The number of divorce cases has declined since the no-fault divorce was introduced in the 1970s, but they still make up a significant portion of family law practice. In some states, women file slightly more than two-thirds of divorce cases. Children can be especially traumatized by a divorce, and it’s important for the adults to talk with them about how this change will affect them.

Many divorce cases can get expensive, so it’s important for people to find low-cost or free legal help. Nonprofit attorney referral services and self-help clinics at courthouses often provide assistance with filling out paperwork, but they usually don’t give legal advice. People can also ask their family attorneys for recommendations or contact their state bar association for information about nonprofit legal aid services. If a person can’t afford a lawyer, he or she may be eligible for a public defender. Some lawyers will accept pro bono cases or work on a sliding fee basis. This can be a great way for a law student to gain experience and build his or her resume.

Child custody is a major issue for many divorced couples. The court may decide whether one parent should receive sole legal custody, which would allow them to make decisions about the child’s health, welfare and education. It may also award joint physical custody, which would allow the child to spend time living with each parent. This arrangement is less stable than sole custody, but it has been shown to have some positive effects for children.

The court will consider the parents’ abilities to raise the child. For example, if one parent has the financial means to provide a more prestigious educational opportunity, this could be a factor in the decision. Similarly, if one parent has been convicted of domestic violence in the past, the court might think they are not able to provide a safe environment for the child.

Judges have a strong preference for parents who work together to come up with a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. They will give a great deal of weight to any agreement reached between the parents and may adopt it into a court order. If the parents cannot agree, a judge will make the decision based on the evidence presented.

Each year the destiny of millions of children is decided in divorce, custody and visitation cases throughout the country. The law is governed by individual state statutes and case law. Judges are supposed to base their decisions on the best interest of the child, but some judges might exhibit bias based on a number of factors, including sex. For example, some judges might believe that mothers are better suited to raising young children and men are better suited for the job of parenting older boys.

The laws of most states recognize that children have a right to financial support from both parents. In a divorce or legal separation, this is typically provided through child support payments. This money is used to cover expenses like food, clothing, housing and transportation. It also pays for health care and childcare. Other costs, such as extracurricular activities and post-secondary education, are sometimes covered as well.

The amount of child support a person must pay is based on various state guidelines. Some use an income share model, which takes each parent’s individual income levels into account. Other states have a percentage of income model, and still others have a flat rate.

These laws also establish the procedures for enforcing child support payments. If the noncustodial parent fails to pay support, the custodial parent may file a petition in family court against him or her. The other party to the case is called the respondent. The petition may ask the court to order the noncustodial parent to pay back all past-due child support; to place the respondent in a program that makes him or her work toward earning more money; to suspend state-issued business, professional and occupational licenses; or to jail him or her for contempt of court.

The courts and child support agencies also take into consideration other expenses that are not listed in the basic child support guidelines. For example, some states require that the cost of health insurance be included in the final child support calculations. This may include co-pays, deductibles and premiums, as well as over-the-counter medications and hygiene items. Some courts will also calculate the cost of additional education costs, such as private school tuition.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two people prior to getting married. It covers issues like property division and spousal support. It can also protect inheritance rights and future income. While it is not possible to predict what will happen in a marriage, it is a good idea to have an agreement to protect yourself financially.

Prenups are increasingly common, especially among younger couples with a lot of assets. They can help prevent a long battle over physical property in the event of a divorce. It can also be used to define what is separate property and marital property, and how the estate will be split. The contracts can even address alimony and establish maintenance payments.

The agreement can also be used to preserve a person’s career or financial footing should they decide to stop working and stay at home to raise children. It can be difficult to re-start a career once the children are grown, so this type of agreement can help protect that opportunity.

In addition to addressing assets, prenups can also include provisions relating to debt. This can be helpful if one spouse comes into the marriage with a large amount of debt. A prenup can outline how the debt will be handled and what would happen if the marriage ended.

Bringing up the topic of a prenup can be difficult and may affect the emotional state of a couple leading into their wedding. It is important to discuss the issue in a calm and respectful manner, with both parties’ best interests in mind. A person should also think through how the agreement could be changed if they were to change their minds, and make sure that both spouses have independent legal counsel before signing.

The financial issues involved in a divorce are complex, and your family law attorney may need to negotiate or litigate alimony (also known as maintenance) as part of your case. Alimony is money paid from one spouse to the other after a marriage ends, usually to provide for the receiving spouse’s reasonable and necessary financial support until they can become self-supporting. Neither spouse is automatically entitled to alimony; either party can ask for it, and the judge will consider the circumstances and evidence presented before making a decision.

Generally speaking, the longer the marriage and the greater the difference in income, the more substantial the alimony payments will be. However, there are many other factors considered when determining alimony, including the parties’ financial needs, the recipient spouse’s ability to earn income and their previous living expenses. In New York, courts can order temporary or permanent maintenance, and they have the discretion to award a variety of types of alimony.

For example, reimbursement alimony is designed to compensate a spouse who sacrificed a career or educational opportunities in order to raise and care for the couple’s children. Rehabilitative alimony is meant to help the lower-earning spouse obtain training or education to increase their employment prospects, and it usually terminates after a set period of time or when the payee becomes self-supporting.

It is also important to understand that alimony is tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable as income for the recipient spouse. In light of recent changes in federal tax law, this could dramatically change how couples approach negotiations about alimony.