Family lawyers can handle a variety of issues dealing with families and small children. Anytime your family dynamics are going to change, it is typically going to have a legal consequence and you want an experienced attorney to help you determine how that is going to affect you and to make sure that the consequences are to your benefit as much as you can manage.

Starting a family, such as adopting a child, obtaining legal guardianship of the child, or entering into a marriage, are areas in which a Prince William family lawyer can help you protect your interests.  It is also important to consult a family lawyer in Prince William in cases where a person is ending a marriage through divorce, legal separation, or annulment so that you understand what your rights are and you have those rights protected during the process.

A sensitive and qualified family attorney is necessary when any person is considering legally binding themselves to another such as through a marriage, cohabitation, or adoption and also when they are considering ending a legal relationship with another person through a divorce, separation, or an annulment. A  lawyer can be invaluable in seeking to modify existing divorce orders, separation agreement or orders addressing with custody, visitation, alimony or child support.

Importance of An Attorney

Family law is a very specific area of the law and as such it is important to find a lawyer with experience in this field because there are a lot of very complex legal issues that do not necessarily parallel other areas of the law.  If children are involved, someone will want a lawyer who has experience dealing with custody and child support issues so they can ensure they understand all of the different aspects that will be considered by a court during the legal proceedings that will determine the ultimate outcome for their family.

Depending on why someone needs the assistance of a Prince William family lawyer, the documents they will need to bring to their initial meetings will vary. If they are considering entering into a marriage, they will need to bring basic financial documentation regarding their assets and debts. If they are seeking a divorce, they will want to have information regarding the background of the marriage, as well as documentation of assets, liabilities, and recent family income. If they have any specific evidence relating to grounds for divorce, they should have an attorney to review it.

Dissolving a Marriage

Dissolving a marriage can be done by filing for divorce. Divorces can be either uncontested or contested, and whether a case is contested can substantially impact how long and how expensive the divorce process is. The party who is seeking the divorce will file a complaint initiating the divorce with the court and the responding spouse will have the opportunity to answer that complaint. Even if the parties are in agreement that the marriage should come to an end, the parties still need to see if they can resolve all of the issues to the divorce such as support, property division and custody. If all of the financial and child related issues are resolved, then the case will be considered an uncontested divorce and the process itself should be simple and move more quickly than a contested divorce case.

If the responding spouse contests any of the allegations or claims made in the divorce complaint or if the financial and child related issues are not resolved between the parties by agreement, the process will take more time and require more legal work. A person with a contested divorce case can expect that there will be discovery requests, depositions, as well as court hearings, arbitration, and/or mediation. It can be an extremely long and complex process and it typically takes anywhere from six months to more than a year after filing the divorce complaint before a contested divorce case will be finalized.

Important Considerations

It is important to think ahead about how someone’s family law matter will affect their life in the long term.  Those contemplating divorce should think about the fact that marital assets and debts will need to be divided as a part of the divorce and the terms provided for the division of property and debt cannot be changed once that divorce has been finalized. It is important to think about division of assets not only from the perspective of a fair division but also in terms of a financial planning perspective.

If anyone has any minor children it is important for them and their family law attorney in Prince William to give careful thought to what an appropriate custody and time-sharing arrangement should look like, as well as the support that will need to be paid to care for the children.  While child custody, visitation, and support can be modified after entry of a divorce order (assuming a qualifying material change has occurred), the Court’s order and/or parties’ agreement should be structured to address the children’s needs and interests as best as possible.  Spousal support, when ordered by the Court, may or may not be modifiable depending on the circumstances surrounding resolution of the issue.  Even though there are many issues the court may have the authority modify after the divorce is done, modification of these terms can require more legal fees and court hearings, so it is important to think about short and long term goals when addressing these issues.

Working with a Family Attorney

A Prince William family lawyer can help you understand the legal process and the laws that apply to your specific family law matter.  An experienced family lawyer can help you see the bigger picture in terms of what to expect, and give you a general idea of the range of possible outcomes in your case.

Your family lawyer will advocate for you and help you navigate an often emotionally charged situation. They will ensure your legal rights are protected and, in some cases, assist you in reaching an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse outside of court, which will allow you to keep decision-making power in your own hands as opposed to having a judge decide the outcomes of important issues for you.