The common conception of Family Law is that it deals with divorce and custody along with child support. This is true, but it is like looking at a museum through the keyhole. Many other areas are concerns of FamilyLaw such as Paternity, Visitation, Health-Insurance, Alimony, Adoption (my personal favorite), Pre-Marital and Post-Marital Property agreements, Trusts, Emancipation, Foster Care, Non-parent Custody, Grandparent Access, Child Protective Services Defense, Powers of Attorney (often in loco parentis for school eligibility) and others, all of which make near universal use of alternative dispute resolution, most often Mediation.
Family Law is closely related to several other areas of law and overlaps with Estate Planning and Probate. Property settlements must be made with an eye to the impact on the client's future with regard to retirement, real property and the burden of tax and liens. Sometimes custody issues intersect with guardianships and special needs children.
A Board Certified FamilyLaw attorneyhas expertise in propertyand business valuation, title searching, legal characterization of property and many other issues regarding marital property. Visitation alone can morph into many variations of a theme as the law shifts to equal-time arrangements. Custody determination changes have seen Courts look askance at issues that twenty years ago would have seriously jeopardized a parent’s chance to have a normal relationship with their child. Likewise, the Courts are much more savvy as to the ramifications of verbal and economic abuse. A clever lawyer knows how to find hidden assets and the proverbial smoking gun.
A good FamilyLawyer is like a good bartender: he can listen to everyone, can empathize and usually has great advice. He must be a bit of a psychologist, a good umpire, a stern parent, and a major league pitcher able to mix up his fast ball with a change up.
I've seen many good attorneys who got so caught up in their clients' personal lives that they got burned out. I've also seen many greedy attorneys run up the bill with little concern for the clients' real needs. I believe in the middle path: concern for the client and fair billing.
The best attorneys are able to invest in the needs of his client without taking a proprietary position. That is, they strive to inform and advise giving the benefit of whatever wisdom the attorney may have; however, it is the client who must make the decision and who must live with the consequences. When the case is over the client leaves the security of the attorney's advice to forge their own future with what has been achieved. Their life goes on without him.