What Is a Family Lawyer? A family lawyer or family law attorney helps clients with legal issues that relate to their family relationships, such as child custody or divorce. They can represent clients in court proceedings, advocate for them during negotiations, draft documents such as petitions and property agreements, and provide general legal counsel.

What Is a Family Lawyer?
What Is a Family Lawyer?

Family law has grown far beyond the divorce lawyers of old. Today, family law cases cover everything from child custody cases to prenuptial agreements to domestic violence restraining orders. If your issue involves family relationships, you need a family attorney. The practice of family law covers many subspecialties.

What Is a Family Lawyer?

Some family law attorneys focus exclusively on divorce and related issues. Adoption attorneys may work with government or private agencies during adoptions. This article reviews the areas of law within the family law umbrella and determines which is best for your legal issues.

What Do Family Lawyers Do?

Each facet of practicing law comes with its own challenges and expectations. A family lawyer is responsible for the following tasks:

. Advise and counsel clients on legal proceedings.

. Act as a representative for your clients throughout the legal process.

. Build a case on behalf of your client to present in the courtroom.

. Use evidence and research to find a favorable position for your client.

. Help families and spouses come to mutual agreements or compromises.

. Speak with key witnesses and other individuals involved in a case.

. Travel to meet with clients and other legal professionals.

. Attend court hearings to argue your client’s claim or reach a settlement.

. Fill out applications to send to family court.

Types Of Family Law Cases

Family law lawyers take on many different kinds of cases, including:

Domestic Abuse

One of the most serious topics on this list that a family law practitioner deals with is domestic abuse. This form of violence can involve any kind of abuse within the household. It could be an individual abusing their partner or a caretaker being violent toward the person they are caring for. Some forms of domestic abuse include the following:

Financial Abuse: Rarely talked about, but equally serious, financial abuse entails the abuser denying the victim access to funds or even preventing them from working.

Physical Abuse: This is what people usually associate the term domestic abuse with. It pertains to physically harming someone in any way, such as by hitting them or depriving them of food.

Emotional Abuse: this form of domestic abuse is more difficult to identify and prove but is very common. The abuser uses words to embarrass, blame, emotionally blackmail, and otherwise manipulate their victim. This usually causes the victim to doubt themselves.


Another common law issue in family law is adoption. The clients of adoption lawyers are adoptive parents, birth parents, and sometimes children. Some of the tasks of an adoptive lawyer are:

. Helping the clients find an adequate adoption agency

. Handling the communication with the adoption agency.

. Negotiating adoption terms on behalf of the client

. Assisting clients with the paperwork

. Answering any inquiries the clients have regarding the adoption laws.

Child Custody

Child custody and child support may be part of the divorce process or separate legal proceedings. Often, parents can agree on everything else but argue over child custody and visitation rights. Having a lawyer you feel comfortable talking to about parenting and custody arrangements makes the process much easier.


Divorce is the most common reason people consult a family lawyer. Unfortunately, statistics show that 40–50% of all marriages end in divorce. You will need a lawyer for matters related to marital property division, alimony or spousal support, and other issues.


Paternity is often part of a child support case. A single mother can petition the court to order the father of her child to provide child support, but she must prove the alleged father’s paternity. She would need a lawyer or legal services to help bring this case to court.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

When couples get married or register a civil partnership, a family lawyer may need to step in. Their services are required when, for instance, a couple decides they wish to sign a prenuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement. In that case, each party would have a lawyer representing them in the process.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Family Lawyer?

The legal field in general requires exceptional communication skills, while working with families demands the capacity to connect with and relate to others on a very human level. Family lawyers need the following skills to be successful:

  • Time Management

Court proceedings tend to be time-sensitive, meaning you’ll need skills that help you prioritize your work. By having good time-management skills, you can meet important deadlines and submit all of your documents on time. Keep in mind that when you are a family lawyer, things will come up all the time. This means you need to be able to adjust your schedule accordingly.

  • Communication

When working as a family lawyer, you will use your communication skills every day. From writing important documents to speaking in court, your written and verbal communication skills are an important part of clearly conveying your ideas and arguments. Having strong communication skills can help you connect with clients and make a solid case for them.

  • Analytical Thinking

A major part of your job is looking at evidence and information to come to a conclusion that serves your client. Family lawyers use their analytical thinking skills to come up with solutions. This case can be quite complex and emotional, making it important to use your analytical thinking skills to figure out what’s best for everyone involved.

  • Organization

Family lawyers work with a great deal of paperwork and important documents. Having organizational skills can help you keep everything in order. Along with being able to easily access your files, staying organized ensures that you are protecting the privacy of your clients. You can always be sure that your confidential information is only going to authorized parties.

  • Empathy

Whether a couple is dealing with a dramatic divorce or a joyful adoption, emotions can be quite strong in family court. While family lawyers need to remain logical and follow legal procedures, it is also important for them to treat their clients with empathy. Empathy skills mean that you can understand how someone is feeling in a certain situation. While you aren’t a therapist, you may need to be a comforting presence when working in this career.

  • Stress Management

Although having empathy is an important part of serving your clients, you also need to have stress-management skills to separate yourself from overbearing situations. Family lawyers need to have the ability to balance their work and home lives to avoid burnout. Stress management is also an important skill to have in the courtroom. Even when situations get intense, you need to find ways to keep your composure and continue to serve your client.

  • Negotiation

When it comes to any court case, there is a lot of negotiation involved. This is especially true when working with divorce or custody cases. Having strong negotiation skills is an important part of ensuring your clients get fair treatment in the courtroom. Many people involved in family court cases are in vulnerable situations, especially children, making it important that you can make a good case for your client’s needs.

  • Research

While your client may provide you with useful information, you’ll need to use your research skills to fully understand the entire situation you are dealing with. Through research, you can find useful evidence and key testimonies. You may even use your research skills to conduct interviews with people involved in your case. Asking the right questions is an important part of finding the information you need to best serve your client.

Who Practices Family Law?

Attorneys who practice family law can work in both small and large firms. It’s a practice that’s compatible with small firms and solo practice. Family lawyers often combine a family law practice with criminal law or estate planning. In addition, lawyers might work as judges, research assistants, or court clerks in the child support office of a court.

Why Do You Need a Family Law Lawyer?

You may wonder why you need a family law lawyer. You may think you and your spouse can work together and navigate the process, but the truth is, you need a trusted advisor to explain your legal rights and help you find the best outcome. Divorce, child custody, and other family law matters can be high-risk; it’s your family and property on the line.

Without a nuanced understanding of the local family laws, you may find yourself overwhelmed and at risk of losing rights to marital property, financial support, and/or custodial rights with your children.


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