Generally speaking, most people associate family law practices with divorce/separation. This is not surprising as divorce rates have steadily increased over the course of the last few decades. In fact, there are an estimated 46,523 divorces filed per week in the United States. Research has also indicated that young couples marrying for the first time have a lifetime divorce rate of 40%, with the average marriage lasting only 11 years.
However, as divorce rates have increased, the field of family law has experienced significant change as result of the rapidly changing dynamics of American family units. While in the past family law attorneys and child custody attorneys may have dealt primarily with divorce and custody cases, today’s family law attorneys can choose from a number of different sub-specialties such as genetics and reproduction, adoption, same-sex marriages, grandparent rights, and many more.
With the advent of no-fault divorce legislation, family law attorneys no longer have to prove fault by the other party in order to dissolve a marriage. This has now created a niche for divorce attorneys to act as mediators and even counselors in a sense, as they help clients who are parents build a healthier relationship with their ex-spouse, which in turn allows them to co-parent more effectively.
Additionally, issues regarding paternal rights and the rights of transgender and same-sex parents have continued to garner national attention, and now give the family lawyer room to exercise more creativity and flexibility in reaching resolutions that are in the best interests of both the parent and the child. Further, legal issues involving gestational surrogacy, parental kidnapping, or gatekeeping, and adoption are now common topics that family law professionals must address.
As family law has continued to change, it is imperative to understand and recognize your rights as a spouse and/or parent. For example, parents who are not married must first establish paternity of the child prior to moving forward with legal action regarding child support or custody. This may seem obvious, however, it is an important detail that is easily forgotten. For this reason, and many others, it is important to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate the often complex legal proceedings in family law.