A family attorney can be a partner to help you through several family-related legal issues—not just divorce settlements or trials. If you’re looking for a lawyer who can assist with anything from domestic violence to adoption, a family lawyer can help.
What Do Family Attorneys Cover?
Family lawyers or attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in family law. Family lawyers can act as mediators when family disagreements develop and can also represent litigants in family conflicts that end up in court.
A family attorney can help you through any of the following situations:
- filing for divorce
- establishing paternity
- adopting a child
- applying for guardianship
- modifying custody or visitation arrangements
- responding to domestic violence restraining orders
- will creation and estate planning
As you can see, there are many circumstances that fall within the practice of family law, but the most common fall into these five main categories:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Domestic Violence
- Estate and Wills
We’ll go into the specifics of California-based law and what a family attorney could do for you in each situation.
Going through a divorce can be extremely draining, both emotionally and financially. Strong emotions are at play that can make it difficult for a couple to settle things calmly.
In such a case, a family law attorney can act as a mediator, and help divorcing couples approach the issue rationally. A competent family law attorney can help couples settle the matter fairly without necessarily going to court.
California Divorce Laws
In California, you can file for divorce if you or your spouse has lived in the state for at least six months and if you have grounds for divorce.
The most common grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences, which means that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no hope for reconciliation.
Other grounds for divorce include:
- incurable insanity
- physical or emotional abuse
If you are considering filing for divorce, or if your spouse has filed for divorce, a family lawyer can help you understand the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
There are two types of custody in California—physical and legal:
Physical custody determines with which parent a child or children will live and visitation rights of each parent.
Legal custody determines a parent’s right to make decisions about their child’s education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
California Custody Laws
Most of the time, parents share both physical and legal custody of their children. In California, joint custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child.
The court will only grant sole custody to one parent if there is evidence that the other parent is unfit or poses a danger to the child.
If you’re going through a divorce or are otherwise seeking to establish custody arrangements for your child, a family lawyer could help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
If one parent has primary physical custody of a child, the other parent is usually required to pay child support.
California Child Support Laws
In California, the amount of child support a parent pays is based on both parents’ incomes and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
The court will also consider other factors, such as the child’s health care needs and whether one parent pays for childcare so that they can work.
If you are seeking child support from the other parent, or if you are the parent who has been ordered to pay child support, a family lawyer could help you understand and comply with the court’s order.
A family lawyer can also help if you need to modify an existing child support order. For example, if one parent loses their job or there is a change in the child’s custody arrangement, the child support order may need to be modified.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, a family lawyer can help you get a restraining order against the abuser, as well as potential reparations. A restraining order is a court order that requires the abuser to stay away from you and your family.
A family lawyer can also help you file for divorce from an abusive spouse. Going through this experience is more than just a divorce—you may be healing from injuries or nervous for your safety. A good family lawyer will make sure that the law gives you the protection you need to be safe from a situation of domestic abuse.
California Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence in the state of California can be grounds for various punishments in addition to jail or prison time:
- Restraining order
- Mandatory participation in domestic violence programs
- Fines or victim restitution
- Loss of custody rights
- Loss of gun rights
- Permanent criminal record
Estate and Wills
A family lawyer can help you create a will that reflects your wishes and ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. They can also help you create a trust, which can help you avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed as you hoped.
California Estate and Will Laws
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to California’s intestate succession laws. These laws take into account your relationship’s with your family members and whether you have any surviving children.
Creating a will is more than just who you want your money to go to, so it’s crucial that you find a trusted family attorney that will honor your wishes.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Family Attorney?
The cost of hiring a family attorney can vary depending on the attorney’s location, experience, and the services that are required.
Generally, family attorneys charge an hourly rate, with fees ranging from $100 to $400 per hour. Some attorneys also charge a flat fee for specific services, such as preparing and filing divorce papers.
Family disputes can cause a whole range of emotions: happiness, relief, sadness, frustration. No matter what type of challenge you’re working through, it’s important to find an experienced family attorney who can help you navigate the process and protect your rights.
If you would like thoughts on your situation and the opportunity to talk with one of our expert Orange County family attorneys, please reach out to us at Monarch Family Law.