Family law is an area of legal practice that focuses on issues involving family relationships, which can include child custody, adoption, guardianship, divorce or estate planning. Sometimes, family lawyers will focus on a single area of practice, such as child custody, while others will handle a full range of family-related issues. Because each state has laws regarding marriage and adoption, the state governs most family laws and legal procedures. Interpreting the laws can be an arduous process. Most family law cases will require an experienced attorney to provide a clear understanding of the current rules and regulations for family law in Greenville, SC.
There are no two legal cases that are the same, especially when it comes to family law. Some may be simple and only require the assistance of a lawyer to draw up the legal paperwork needed to finalize the case. While others may be stressful and time-consuming such as a divorce case that involves an unresolved child custody agreement.
There are many reasons why a case requires a family lawyer. Finding the right attorney can help eliminate conflicts and would ideally make each step of the process go much faster.
Reasons to Hire an Experienced Family Lawyer in Greenville, SC
Family law is a broad legal area that covers more than child custody cases. It can include issues such as reproductive rights, LGBT marriage rights, and foster care. Some of the most common reasons to hire a family lawyer include:
When filing for divorce, both parties hire a family attorney to represent them. The lawyer is there to help their client figure out a settlement plan in hopes to avoid a trial. A good attorney will have experience with dividing property that the couple purchased together such as their house or car. The lawyer can also calculate how much spousal support if any; their client must pay, and help their client come up with a plan for child custody, visitation rights, and the child support terms.
There are times when a couple will have an agreement, and they have already discussed the terms prior to hiring their lawyers. Those cases usually do not have to go to trial and settle quickly. However, when there is a complex custody battle or a disagreement over who should maintain ownership of the home, the case goes to court.
Child Custody/Child Support
Settlement agreements that involve child custody or support often end up in a large divorce case. The partners have the option to change the terms of the settlement as needed over time. This can be useful if the parent providing child support has a change in their financial situation. A family lawyer provides insight on the child support laws in South Carolina and can help the custodial parent receive a fair amount of financial support each month.
Adoption cases can be complex depending on the type of adoption taking place. The complexity of the case also depends on where the child is from, and the current laws for adoption in South Carolina. To ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, a family lawyer should be involved. When it comes to foster parents, who wish to adopt their foster children, it is not always necessary to hire an attorney to finalize the case.
Usually, the birth mother files a paternity case to secure child support payments from the father. But, there are also times when a biological father will file for paternity so that they can raise the child on their own. To resolve this type of case quickly, the court requires a DNA test. However, there can be circumstances where the case requires more time to resolve and additional legal representation for the parents by a reliable family lawyer.
Family law covers many legal areas that some individuals looking for assistance may not know about. Here are a few of the additional practice areas for family law that help couples, parents, and children legally sort out common family issues.
Divorcing couples use mediation services provided by a lawyer to help them settle their issues. In divorce mediation, both parties hire a neutral third party who helps with resolving disagreements. Divorce mediators are o experienced family lawyers who have received special mediation training. The mediator is not a judge and therefore does not make the final decision in a divorce case. Instead, they assist couples with reaching an agreement to make the case less stressful for everyone involved.
Estate planning involves deciding who should receive the property and personal items of an individual after they die. It all begins with the creation of a will or living trust. The plan can include:
- providing instructions for the funeral arrangements
- naming a guardian for minors
- instructions for care if the person becomes disabled
- providing friends or family members with personal items
- life insurance or long-term care insurance
Understanding Collaborative Law
Collaborative law is a new concept used to resolve several types of disputes outside the courtroom. The process takes place in a neutral location and uses problem-solving techniques to address problems. This can help both parties avoid fighting out their issues in court, and it can also be less expensive than taking a custody case or divorce to trial.
As part of the process, both parties hire separate attorneys to assist with settling the dispute. If the case happens to go to court, the collaborative law process ends. Doing so disqualifies both lawyers from future involvement in the case.
Both parties must sign a contractual agreement when starting the collaborative process that includes the following:
Reveal All Documents
Both parties must agree to openly disclose all information relevant to the case. Neither should take advantage of a mistake or miscalculation provided by the other. Instead, the lawyers make a note of all errors found and correct them throughout the process. Withholding evidence will only cause the process to go slower than necessary.
Respect Each Other
Each party must agree to act in a respectable manner and avoid any disapproving talk or defamatory actions toward any of the participants.
Conduct Meetings without Children
The involved parties must agree to keep the children out of the proceedings. They should behave in a manner that will lessen the impact of the divorce on their lives.
Implement Experts as Needed
Both parties should agree to implement outside sources when necessary and do so in a cooperative manner. They must share the costs related to bringing in experts, such as parenting counselors or real estate appraisers. These experts may assist with dividing marital items or provide advice on sharing custody of children.
Work Toward a Positive Result for Both Parties
The primary purpose of the collaborative law process is to come to a mutual understanding following a divorce without appearing in court. Therefore, both parties should agree to work toward their common goal to make the process go faster and with fewer issues.
Neither party can threaten to take court action against the other to resolve their dispute. If the two sides decide to take the case to court, the attorneys involved in the collaborative law process must withdraw and have no further connection with the case.
Terminology Used in Family Law
Some of the common legal terms you will encounter in your family law case include:
Marital property includes items acquired by either spouse or both during their marriage. These items belong to both people and are to be divided during the divorce process.
Emancipation: This is the legal process where a minor becomes self-supporting and takes on the responsibility for their own welfare. The child is no longer considered under the care of the parents.
This is a payment made to one spouse by the other that offers support after a legal separation or divorce.
This is the process of establishing paternity by confirming the identity of the child’s biological father, usually so that the biological mother may receive child support payments.
An agreement made between two partners prior to their marriage that states they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.
When to Hire a Family Law Attorney
Contrary to what many believe, it is possible to resolve a divorce without a long, drawn-out court battle. Even a divorce involving a child custody agreement could finalize outside of court if the parents reach an agreement on their own. The factors of the divorce determine whether there is a need for an attorney.
If the couple is unable to reach a compromise on their own, and there is a lot at stake such as dividing expensive property, hiring a family lawyer would be the best option. However, if both parties wish to compromise and make the process as short as possible, they may choose a collaborative law process instead.
When a couple chooses to make their own decisions about their divorce, they can save themselves time and money. By using a mediator to work out issues such as property division, child custody, or visitation, the results may turn out much better than if the couple decided to take their issues to court and have a judge decide everything for them.
Divorce cases tend to cause additional conflicts to arise, and if either spouse feels that they cannot negotiate with the other on their own, a family law attorney can help by fighting the battle for their client. The lawyer keeps the best interests of their client in mind when stating their case and can ensure that the process is over as fast as possible.
Using the Same Family Lawyer: Generally, a couple in need of a divorce cannot use the same lawyer due to the ethical rules that the lawyer must abide by. However, the use of joint representation is possible when:
- Both parties agree on the main issues of the divorce
- Both parties are confident that they can resolve minor issues
- Both spouses understand that the lawyer cannot fully represent them both during the divorce
- Both spouses agree to use a joint representative in writing, and they only want to use the lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork.
Contacting a Family Lawyer in Greenville, SC
There are many instances that families face over time where they need to consult with a family lawyer. Whether it involves buying a new home, resolving a child custody case, or estate planning, the process will take less time when a legal representative is involved. Family law attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed in this area of legal practice to ensure that their client’s legal rights are protected and that they receive the compensation or outcome that they desire.
Dealing with a legal issue among family members or an estranged spouse can be tumultuous. These situations are both physically and mentally exhausting for everyone involved. Most people simply want the situation resolved so that their lives may return to normal. By hiring a family law attorney, individuals can avoid conflicts and confrontations with alienated relatives and reach a fair decision in court.
Family law attorneys in Greenville understand the current laws concerning legal areas such as child custody, adoption, divorce, and visitation rights. When searching for a family attorney to take a case, it is wise to hire a lawyer with many years of experience in family law, and one who has successfully helped others resolve their issues either inside the courtroom or by settling outside of court. Individuals looking for a lawyer should ask their friends and family members in Greenville for suggestions on which family law firm they would recommend for the best results.
Those seeking confident and compassionate representation for their case should consult with the family attorneys here at Greenville Family Law. We specialize in many areas of family law including Adoption, Child Custody, Divorce, Grandparents’ Rights, LGBT Marriage Laws, and Guardian Ad LITEM cases. Attorney Robert Clark is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) and believes in putting the best interests of children first when it comes to family law cases. Anyone who desires to have a strong legal representation for their case should contact Greenville Family Law today to schedule a consultation.