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California Family Law Attorneys & Law Firms near Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc Metro
What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?
A family law attorney generally handles matters that involve the family court system, including family-related issues and domestic relationships. Some of the common practice areas California family lawyers handle include:
- Marital property division
- Prenuptial agreements
- Child custody cases
- Child support
- Parental rights
- Alimony or spousal support
- Domestic violence
- Restraining orders
- Estate planning
- Juvenile dependency
- Juvenile delinquency
- Child abuse
Family lawyers may work in many capacities, including as a private lawyer in a small family law firm, a family law lawyer in a big firm, for county or state government agencies, in nonprofit organizations, or as a state attorney. Attorneys act as advocates for their clients, which may include representing the interests of a minor child in child abuse or juvenile dependency hearings.
Do Family Law Attorneys Handle Divorce?
A large part of family law practice involves divorce. Divorce can be a difficult process, especially when the couple is in dispute over how to handle the separation. A contested divorce can get complicated when emotions are involved, often involving money problems or infidelity. Divorce is a major life-changing event and it can be difficult to navigate on your own.
In general, a divorce lawyer can only represent one spouse in a divorce. There is a conflict of interest in trying to represent both spouses. When you find a family law attorney, your attorney will act as an advocate for you and advise you in your best interests.
In an uncontested divorce, a family law attorney can help their client prepare the divorce order, with all the issues settled between the couple, including division of property and child custody and visitation. In an uncontested divorce, there is nothing left for the court to decide and the court may issue the final divorce court order after making sure the couple has met all the statutory requirements to legally end the marriage.
In a contested divorce, there may be a dispute over many issues, including property, alimony, and child custody. If the couple cannot settle these issues through negotiations or mediation, it may be left up to the family court judge to decide how to settle the disputes. Contested divorces can take longer and be more expensive for each spouse.
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How Do You Hire a Good California Attorney
Finding the best lawyer for your unique situation can be a challenge, but the best way to hire a good California attorney is to talk with them, ask them questions, and make sure they meet all your needs. This usually starts with their practice area. Determine which lawyers can handle your type of case and then find a California attorney with experience in that area. So it will be important to ask about each lawyer’s years of experience, legal training, and strategy to your unique legal case.
The attorney-client relationship may also be important. If it is your first time dealing with a legal issue, you may be looking for a lawyer who can clearly and patiently explain the legal process, identify your options, and answer all your questions. You may also want an attorney who is available at any time to provide legal advice. Think about questions to ask, like if there are updates to your case, how will that be communicated? Are there specific California law deadlines that you are required to meet?
The location of your attorney's law office may also be an important factor. In larger cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco, you may want to find a lawyer with a convenient location to you so that you don't have to drive an hour just for signing legal papers. However, some legal services can be primarily conducted through phone calls, emails, written correspondence, and video calls, so you could, for example, have a lawyer in Sacramento handle your legal issues in Riverside.