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What Are the Duties of a Family Law Attorney

A family law attorney practices a type of civil law that deals with different legal issues that a family might face. This includes legal relationships concerning children, parents, wives, husbands and domestic partners. It is estimated that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, so a lawyer is needed to deal with agreements regarding legal separation of the parties, dissolution of marriage (divorce) and equitable division of marital property, assets and liabilities. Nullity of marriage occurs when the marriage is unlawful due to bigamy or some other condition that existed at the time of the marriage. A decree of nullity basically says the parties were never married, but some states have modified annulment results. For example, the children of a voided marriage are considered legitimate and may receive child support. Note that this may vary from one state to another.

Divorces and separations can get even more complicated when children are involved, so a good family law attorney is needed to help sort things out. Child custody concerns the right to take care of a child and to make major decisions regarding the youngster. Either sole custody or joint custody arrangements may be worked out, unless the parents cannot agree. In this case the courts decide on the custody arrangements based on what is the "best interest of the child." Child support is a regular payment made a parent for the care of the children after a divorce. This is usually taken care of in a divorce or separation agreement, and it may be part of spousal support or alimony payments. Each state and American Indian tribe develops guidelines for child support, and your family lawyer can explain the details of your particular jurisdiction.

Another area a family law attorney deals with is adoptions. When an adoptive individual or family takes on all the parenting duties for a youngster who is not their biological child, all the rights of the biological parents are permanently transferred to the adoptive parents. Over 60 percent of all adoptions in the US are arranged through child placement agencies. Agencies may handle adoptions from other states or even international adoptions. A lawyer in the child's location can handle the local paperwork, but be sure to get an agreement in writing on the attorney's fees as early in the process as possible. Your lawyer should have expertise in immigration matters if you are adopting a child from another country.

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