Family Law is an area of law that deals with family matters and domestic relations such as divorce, child support, child custody, adoption, termination of parental rights, petitions for protection from abuse, alimony, pre, and post-nuptial agreements, and more.
It can also include other forms of family affairs such as:
- Grandparent Rights
- Health Care Directives
- Name Changes
- Parent Relocation
- Power of Attorney
- Protection from Abuse (PFA)
- Spousal Support
Helpful Terms to Know Around Family Law
There is a lot of legal jargon so we’ve broken down some of the terms you’re most likely to come across.
Legal custody is when a parent is responsible for making decisions about the child’s health, education, and overall welfare. Joint and sole custody are options for legal custody as well.
Physical custody is known by many for who the child lives with. Physical custody means that one parent has been granted the primary responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care. Those responsibilities include providing the child with food, shelter, and safety. In this instance, the child resides at one parent’s home the majority of the time.
Legal Separation A Legal Separation and a divorce are almost identical in the fact that the procedures are the same. Child custody and support can be awarded, and assets and debts will be divided in both; however, at the end of the Legal Separation process, you remain married to your spouse.
Divorce settlements generally focus on three things: marital property division, alimony and support, and child custody and support.
Collaborative Law is a method of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties commit to resolving their dispute out of court. Because parties to a divorce often need to have a continuing relationship due to co-parenting of children, Collaborative Law is ideally suited to divorce and other family law matters.
Uncontested Divorce refers to a divorce where the parties do not go to court, and the divorce is submitted solely on the parties’ written agreement.
Guardian ad litem In Alabama, a GAL is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the “best interests” of the child or children involved. A GAL’s duty is not necessarily to advocate for what the child wants, which can sometimes be opposed to what is in the child’s best interests. The Guardian Ad Litem will often be asked to present a recommendation to the Court for consideration after the case. While the Court will consider the GAL’s recommendation, the Court is not bound by what the GAL recommends.
Mediation Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution where a third-party neutral, typically a lawyer, facilitates a settlement agreement in your case.
Tips from A Family Lawyer
We have years of experience as family lawyers. With that, we’ve been able to create helpful video resources for people looking for more information on how to navigate divorce. Here are a few of our most popular videos that answer questions you may have.
People are often tempted to DIY or Google their way through a separation, but it’s worth consulting with a lawyer to see how they might be able to assist you. It may be more straightforward and affordable than you think.
We have found that the DIY divorce websites our clients use are not always in compliance with local laws. Furthermore, the judges and clerks at the Mobile Domestic Relations Court are themselves legally obligated not to give you legal advice, so there is no one to turn to for specific questions about your case, unless you hire a lawyer.
We can provide that much-needed legal advice and next steps. We’re here to help you get a fresh start and provide support during a traumatic period whether or not you and your partner decide to split ways. If you’re even contemplating a divorce, call us, and we can share the next steps and guide you through what that process might look like for you.
Reasons to Hire A Family Lawyer
A lawyer is an added layer of protection during contentious situations. You can communicate critical decisions and requests through your lawyer and remove yourself from the heated part of the argument. This is especially helpful if the situation is high conflict and very escalated. A lawyer can work with you to create a parenting plan that meets your family’s unique needs and isn’t a boilerplate web form. They have years of experience on what has worked well for other clients and what hasn’t worked so well so you can avoid crucial mistakes. When it comes to arranging summer break, vacations, and holiday time, this insight can prove invaluable.
You can let the lawyers handle some of the more challenging aspects of the separation and keep the focus on the interactions you and your partner do need to have. Your lawyer will be your best line of defense and protection if there is abuse or if you are being bullied or coerced into agreeing to something not in your best interests.
What Our Clients Say
“(Herlihy Family Law) was the strongest and most competent legal team I could ask for. As a father fighting for custody, I was intimidated going into this battle. From the very first phone call with Alison, I am positive I made the right decision. The entire team at Herlihy Family law helped me through my child custody case. They were always thorough, honest, hard-working, quick to communicate with me through every step and take action when needed. All information was presented to me in a factual and realistic manner without any fluff. My voice was always heard and valued. I am so thankful that I chose them and because of this team, I was awarded everything we were fighting for. I completely recommend Herlihy Family Law for anyones case.” – Dwayne McLain