Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is Family Law?


Family Law is a legal practice area where attorneys focus on legal issues such as divorce, adoption and child custody among others. Practicing family law attorneys can represent clients in family court proceedings, related negotiations and can also help to draft legal documentation such as property settlement agreements or court petitions. Some family law attorneys also offer services to help with adoption, emancipation, paternity or other matters not usually related to divorce.

A term known as: “reasonable formal requirements” are determined by individual states for marriage, legal capacity, and age as well as the procedures and rules for family law matters and divorce. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages- there were states who restricted marriage (and divorce to couples only of opposite sexes.  That is no longer the case.

Helpful Terms

The following family law terms are often used in family law cases:

  • Alimony or Spousal Maintenance: An monthly cash allowance from one partner to the other for support during or following a divorce or legal separation for a period of months or years.
  • Emancipation: A court process through which a minor becomes self-supporting, is no longer under the legal custody of his or her parents and assumes adult responsibility for their own welfare.
  • Marital Property: Property acquired by either spouse during a marriage that is subject to division upon divorce, also referred to as community property.
  • Prenuptial Agreement: An private contractual agreement made between partners before marrying in which they forego future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.
  • Paternity: Descent or origin from a father (to establish paternity is to confirm the identity of a child’s biological father) legally declaring the rights and obligations of both parents for a child born in common between them.

Reasons To Hire A Family Law Attorney

Family law is a broad area of practice and encompasses more than just matters related to divorce including issues such as reproductive rights and foster care. It is important to have a trusted legal professional by your side ensuring those closest to you are protected and represented properly during any legal processes involving their well being.

The most common reason to hire a family law attorney includes the following:

  • Adoption / Foster Care: Adoption is a complex process that differs according to the adoption type, from where the child originates, and other factors such as variances in state laws. Foster parents sometimes adopt their foster children, but the foster process does not necessarily require legal representation. It is always vital to consult with a good family law attorney.
  • Child Support / Child Custody: Court orders and settlement agreements involving both support and custody usually are included in large divorce cases, but may be revisited for example if the non-custodial parent’s financial situation changes post-Decree.
  • Divorce: Each spouse or partner hires an attorney of his or her own to devise and negotiate a plan of settlement with the purpose of avoiding a trial.  Well-versed divorce attorneys are skilled at the division of marital property, the calculation of spousal support and proposing visitation, support and child custody plans.
  • Paternity: In most cases, paternity cases are filed by the mother to secure child support payments from an absent father. But sometimes biological fathers file for paternity in order to have a relationship with their child. Paternity typically is determined through DNA testing.

Related Practice Areas

Family law will often intersect with many other areas of legal practice. Child Abuse and Domestic Violence typically involve criminal investigations and family courts determine how best to protect the victims and ensure safety for those involved. Other related legal practices include:

Need a Family Lawyer in Scottsdale?

Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.  Proven trial lawyers in family court, you can trust the firm to represent you fully so you can get on with your life. Call today for your initial consultation. Our family lawyers can help with divorce litigation, collaborative divorcedivorce mediationchild custodylegal guardianshippaternityprenuptial agreements, and more.

*This information is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *