What does a family law attorney do?

If you’re dealing with a divorce, custody, or support matter, someone has probably told you to talk to a family law attorney. But what does a family law attorney do?

First, you should know that you don’t have to have an attorney. You can complete your matter “in proper” or representing yourself. However, sometimes an attorney can be helpful. There are a few ways for a family law attorney to help you.

  • Full representation – In this method, the attorney is on the record, receives all notices from the court and the other side, communicates with the court and the other side on your behalf, drafts and files all documents on your behalf, advises you of the law and your rights and obligations, and creates a strategy to complete your matter while protecting your rights.
  • Unbundled representation – In this method, you receive the help of an attorney, but only for limited issues or a limited time. For example, you might be getting a divorce and hire an attorney to help you only with child support. The attorney will advise you about child support, prepare those documents, and talk to the other side about that issue. You would handle all the other issues, like custody and asset division. Another example is hiring an attorney to represent you at a hearing, the preparation for that hearing, and for any continuance of that hearing. Here, you would get the help for the hearing preparation but you would file your own petition and communicate with the other side about things unrelated to the hearing. Unbundled representation is usually accomplished through a limited scope representation agreement. This agreement states that your attorney represents you only for these certain issues or time period.
  • Consultation – In this method, you receive the advice of an attorney but the attorney is not “on the record.” This means that the court and the other side will communicate with you directly. The attorney can give you advice about your rights and obligations and help you develop a strategy for your case. In some cases, the attorney might review or help you draft documents that are submitted to the court under your name.

In all these types of representation, you can see that there are a variety of things that a family law attorney does. The most important one is that a family law attorney will advise you. The attorney will let you know what the law says and how it applies to you and your matter.

Other things a family law attorney does are:

  • Advocate for you. The attorney represents you and your position. All their work will be aimed at ensuring the protection of your rights, whether that work is drafting documents or negotiating with the other side for a settlement.
  • Protect your rights. The law sets out what rights the parties to a legal process has. Your family law attorney can tell you what those rights are and make sure that the other party respects those rights.
  • Ensure you are meeting your obligations. Every legal process has requirements and obligations for the parties involved. Your family law attorney will help you make sure to meet those obligations, to avoid any negative consequences. For example, a divorce requires certain financial disclosures to be made. Your attorney can let you know what is required and help you create the appropriate disclosures.
  • Draft documents for your matter. This can include things like a divorce petition, a request for order (motion), a declaration, a judgment, a marital settlement agreement, and a trial brief.
  • Represent you in communications. The attorney will talk to other people on your behalf, particularly the other side and the court. The attorney will handle things like scheduling any hearings or meetings, settlement negotiations, serving documents, sending out and discovery requests. The attorney will also be the person who will do most of the talking during any court appearances, addressing the court on your behalf.

An attorney can be very helpful in any kind of family law matter, no matter the type of representation you choose.

Would you like the help of a family law attorney in your matter? Contact Romanovska Law.

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