What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

When I was a kid, watching old black and white movies on TV, there would often be a lawyer character who was called whenever anything legal related came up. It might be selling a house, drafting a will, getting little Timmy out of jail, giving tax advice, or reviewing a contract. This character even made house calls. For lack of a better term, I always thought of this person as the family lawyer, as he (always a he) seemed to be the lawyer for all of the family’s legal needs, a one stop shop.

In today’s world, that is NOT what the term “family lawyer” refers to. Lawyering tends to be much more specialized than it was 100 years ago. Instead of being a generalist lawyer for the family, a family lawyer is someone who specifically deals with legal issues around family relationships (the field is sometimes also called Domestic Relations). This includes divorce, legal separation, paternity, child support, custody, prenuptial agreements, and in some cases helping unmarried couples separate (a “committed intimate relationship”).

Does a Family Law Attorney Only Handle Divorce?

Some areas you might think would be included, such as wills and probate are now treated as a separate field from Family Law, often called Trusts and Estates. Surprisingly, even Adoption is generally viewed as a separate field. Sometimes a lawyer might work in more than one field, so a family lawyer might also offer adoption services, but that is an exception rather than the rule.

The services provided by a family lawyer may go beyond litigation, which refers to adversarial court based proceedings. At Seattle Divorce Services we also provide other dispute resolution options such as Collaborative Divorce and Mediation. These options involve helping clients work out their own solutions to issues like division of property, support, and parenting, rather than turning them into a court battle.

You Can Turn to Seattle Divorce Services for Compassionate Advice

Sometimes, our family lawyers act more as consultants, such as when we advise someone representing them self in court (“pro se services”), or when helping a client draft a prenuptial agreement. If you are just at the planning phase for your new family, we can sit down to discuss any legal issues that might warrant thinking about.