Many do not think that family law carries the complexity or stimulation of some other areas of law. However, family law requires knowledge of both the law's inner workings and its relationship to human psychology than any other area of the law.
A family law attorney must navigate through highly emotional situations and schedules for all parties. They also must be prepared to help their clients with tax situations and the distribution of family assets. If there are children involved, a family law attorney handles custody issues and visitations, financial support, and sometimes allegations of abuse.
There may be frequent hearings and the possible need for experts on everything from finances to potential private investigations into the parties' actions during their cases. While this area of law may not have the reputation of others for its complexity, it has a rich body of law. It requires the attorney to be flexible as several issues may come their way during a case.
Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney
A family law attorney must deal with an astonishingly wide variety of types of cases.
A family law attorney must be proficient in:
- changing custody,
- terminating parental rights,
- determining visitation,
- and doing all these things while remembering that highly emotional people are involved.
Division of Marital Property
There are generally two types of division of marital property: community property or equitable distribution. There are many states on both sides of the two kinds of divisions of marital property.
This is the principle that any property acquired during the marriage is the joint property of both parties.
This is the principle that the assets acquired during the marriage should be first valued as marital or nonmarital. Once the determination is made as to the status of the assets, the parties either agree on distributions or, if necessary, the distribution is ordered by the judge.
Like in a community property state, it is assumed that the property should be evenly distributed, but the judge can order an unequal distribution if testimony shows that the property should not be evenly distributed. The prepared family law attorney must understand the state's laws on marital property and advise his client accordingly. Knowledge of these principles can save the client a lot of money during a divorce proceeding.
Likewise, family law attorneys are frequently called upon to help clients determine tax consequences of divorce, divide up assets such as homes or retirement accounts, or even businesses. Experts in such areas should be part of the family law attorney's list of contacts. In such matters, it is important to ensure that assets are protected to the best of the family law attorney's ability, even if this means hiring another expert.
Child Custody/Child Support
One of the other major areas of emphasis for the family law lawyer is child custody determination. Whether the parties have children as part of their marriage or if the parties never married, custody situations are often contentious. Courts will always determine custody based on the general idea of the best interests of the children. The client and attorney must discuss what this principle means. Many times, these cases become emotionally charged.
When granting one parent custody, there is no longer a general principle that either parent starts on a better footing with the court because of gender or the child's age. The court will look to these matters as a factor among many others.
Other factors the court will look at include:
- which parent can communicate and get along with the other better regarding parenting decisions,
- the child's health,
- the willingness to facilitate a good parent-child relationship,
- the nature of each parent's employment for child support, and
- the home environment of each parent.
Custody matters are uniquely emotional. Even if the matter does not go to trial and an agreement is made, situations between ex-spouses can change instantly.
Even cases that get resolved can end up back in court based on one parent's behavior or the child's desires. Child custody matters are a rollercoaster and are never really finished until the child involved becomes an adult. A good family law attorney will be present to counsel the client throughout the child's life to make the best decision for the child's well-being.
Family law attorneys have a challenging job. In addition to navigating the financial and family-dynamic aspects of a family litigation matter, the attorney must also help the client go through a tough personal time. These cases can be highly emotional. A family law attorney must be prepared for the extraordinarily complex nature of the case, both legally and psychologically.
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About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.
With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.
Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.
Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.
One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.
One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.
Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.
In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.
Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.
In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.