A family law attorney is a lawyer dedicated to negotiating disagreements between married couples. Some of the more common disagreements that family lawyers mediate are:
- Child support
- Property division
- Domestic violence
In the event of a family disagreement or split, a family lawyer will then come in to help negotiate an agreement between the two parties. This can range from civil domestic cases, childcare, or other serious concerns that are at play when two people get divorced. A family lawyer can help protect you from financial crisis and limit the amount of alimony or child support you might have to pay or work with the other lawyer to take your requests into account.
Although family lawyers are not criminal lawyers, they will fight domestic violence cases in civil court. In the case of domestic violence, criminal charges will be taken over by the criminal court system separate from the civil case of family violence. The civilian case still needs representation, which is where a family lawyer comes in.
Domestic violence can completely overturn the normal proceedings of a divorce case. It could lead to no or limited visitation rights for the abusive spouse, more severe payments, jail time, or worse. If you or your children have been abused in a relationship, you should immediately call a family lawyer to seek the help you and your children need.
Although you might have believed otherwise, alimony and child support are not the same thing.
Alimony is completely separate from any children in the family and serves instead as spousal support. In the event of a divorce, the ‘breadwinner’ of the marriage may have to pay alimony to the other partner to support them if they have to move or may otherwise be deemed unable to support themselves after the divorce. The amount paid is usually calculated at 40% of the paying spouse’s net income before child support, but this can vary per state regulations and by lawyer agreement.
Unlike alimony, child support is intended to be used solely for the care of the child. This means new clothes, toys, insurance, groceries, or other necessary bills to maintain the health of the child are directly correlated to the use of child support. Child support is intended to be used for direct relief for the parent who has primary custody of the child.
Both alimony and child support are determined by the state. However, alimony and child support can both be negotiated to be lower or higher than the state standards, as long as they are within reason. Many states have minimums and maximums that an alimony and child support payer would be responsible for, which is why it is normally done in the presence of both sides’ lawyers.
If the court is the one making the decision in a hearing, the payment will base the alimony or child support payments based on the gross monthly income of the paying parent usually set at a predetermined amount or percentage, depending on which is lower.
What happens during a custody court hearing depends greatly on the wishes of the parents. If you are going to a court hearing, the judge will be the one who determines who gets custody of the child, based on the parents’ current conditions and their parenting plan.