Family law is comprised of case precedents and a body of statutes that govern the legal responsibilities between people who share a domestic relationship. Usually, the cases involve parties who are related by marriage or blood. However, family law may also affect those who are in a more casual or distant relationship. Due to the fact that most family law cases are very emotionally-charged nature, it is strongly advised that litigants retain legal counsel. Most family law proceedings are the result of the termination of a romantic relationship or marriage. Family law lawyers assist their clients with filing for alimony, divorce, visitation, child custody, and support. Spouses who were married for just a short time might be able to seek an annulment, and there might be special rights existing between same-sex couples. Another common issue involved in family law cases is the division of property when a marriage ends. With respect to the division of property when a divorce occurs, each state has its own comprehensive series of laws instituted in order to determine the rights of all parties involved. However, for those couples who do not agree with their state’s default rules, they can “opt-out” by hiring an attorney to help them draft a prenuptial agreement. Assuming there is no duress or fraud, courts will enforce premarital agreements when there is a divorce, and financial support ad property will be distributed accordingly. Another thing that family law involves is the prevention of emotional and physical abuse. Potential domestic abuse is not only limited to relationships between former or current spouses and their children. Judges are also quite willing to assert jurisdiction in order to protect someone who is in a dating relationship, an elderly family member or even a roommate. Whenever an abuse allegation is made, typically the court will issue a restraining order in order to prevent further contact from being made. When a family law case is contested, a majority of people are aware that hiring an experienced and skilled lawyer will provide them with an advantage. A lawyer can find income or assets that the other party is attempting to hide, take a case to trial if a settlement cannot be reached, and present arguments regarding visitation and child support. However, attorney representation is just as critical in uncontested cases. A person is left very vulnerable without it and may waive some very important legal rights unknowingly. Parental Obligations & Rights – In family court, the most common dispute is child custody. Understandably, parents are very concerned with the overall wellbeing, education, and safety of their children. Decisions regarding custody become even hard following a breakup or divorce since parents have a tendency to distrust one another during these times. No matter what the state of affairs is between the parents, custody is also decided by judges on the basis of “the best interests of the child.” In an attempt to do what is best for a child, physical and legal custody can be assigned by the court to just one of the parents, or those rights may be shared. One common schedule allows a child to spend alternating holidays, summers, and weekends with the non-custodial parent, and parents having an equal say in those major decisions that affect their child. When the court approves a custody schedule, it does its best to avoid the child’s life having any unnecessary disruptions. Parents all have a legal duty to provide their children with financial support. The specific amount of support that is order in a case is calculated according to the state statute. A child support worksheet is published by most states that helps to simplify this job. The calculation takes into account both parents’ income, the cost of the child’s health insurance, support paid by the non-custodial parent for other children, and other factors. Support and custody orders are subject to modification. Family law attorneys, in fact, spend a lot of time in modification proceedings representing their clients. To revise the child support amount or change a visitation schedule, the requesting party is required to demonstrate that there have been changes in circumstances since the order was originally entered. Some examples of changed circumstances include a parent becoming disabled, moving, and loss of employment. There can be many other issues involved in family law cases. Another common litigation issue is disproving or establishing paternity, although it is becoming less complex since courts can now order DNA testing. Some of the other issues that may be involved include grandparent rights, LGBT and gay relations, adoption, and termination of parental rights. Twenty-first-century family law is evolving rapidly, which makes it critical to seek out professional help. Contact Toporowska Law to get started today.