Attorneys often use the term “family law” to describe their practice area. However, the term family law can sometimes be confusing or deceiving. Although it may seem like family law encompasses anything related to families, it actually is a somewhat narrow and specialized area of law.
What types of legal issues fall under the category “family law”?
The most commonly known areas of family law are divorce and child custody cases. However, family law is much more than just divorce and child custody. Most attorneys who practice family law are also skilled in handling a variety of cases, including:
- Legal Separation
- Dissolution of Same-Sex Marriages
- Post- Decree Disputes
- Contempt of Court Actions
- Restraining/Protection Orders
- Collaborative Law
- Child Support
Can family law attorneys draft wills or help me with my estate planning?
While some general practitioners will handle family law cases as well as wills, probate and estate planning, they really are two separate areas of law. Probate attorneys specialize in drafting wills and trusts, handling probate matters, and helping clients create estate plans. Usually these legal matters fall outside the realm of family law.
Can a family law attorney help me in a Dependency & Neglect or Juvenile Delinquency case?
Some family law attorneys have a broader practice area, but generally speaking dependency and neglect and juvenile delinquency matters fall outside the scope of family law. There is a completely separate statutory code for these types of cases than divorce and child custody cases. Therefore, you may desire to hire an attorney who is skilled in child advocacy to assist you in these types of matters.
If my family law cases involves real estate, tax issues, etc., do I need to hire multiple attorneys to address all of my concerns?
Most family law attorneys have education and training to spot issues related to many different areas of law. It is very common for real estate or tax questions to arise in the context of a divorce, and your family law attorney may be able to answer those questions for you. However, if a complex or unique issue arises that is outside the scope of your family law attorney’s expertise, your lawyer may decide that it is necessary to consult with an expert. For example, the division of military and/or railroad retirement is a complex area of law that some attorneys specialize in. If you have one of these issues in your case, your family law attorney may be wise to consult with outside counsel to ensure the division is handled correctly.
What if I’m still not sure whether I have a family law issue or not?
If you are still unsure about whether your legal issue falls under the category of family law or some other type of law, the best thing to do is research a few family law attorneys and give them a call to ask what practice areas they specialize in. Even if the attorney is not able to handle your case, they should be able to point you in the right direction of someone who can help. Are you living in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas? Don’t hesitate to contact our offices to schedule a consultation.