Ideally, nobody ever has to hire a family lawyer because family life is pure bliss. Unfortunately, that’s a reality that few families enjoy.
Problems, disputes, and unwanted circumstances always have a habit of arising with those closest to us — and that’s where a family lawyer can help.
Whether it’s a divorce, child custody, support issues, a dispute with an adult interdependent partner (AIP), a guardianship issue or another financial or legal matter, the support and advice of a family lawyer can be very welcome.
An experienced family lawyer can be a calming influence and help you achieve a favourable outcome with your legal issue or dispute.
What do family lawyers do?
Family law usually deals with complex matters that are further complicated by the emotional attachments that are often a factor in proceedings.
This means that simply “winning” or “losing” a case is not the only thing that matters. People’s lives are greatly affected by the outcomes of disputes that can affect entire families.
Typically, family lawyers look after the following types of legal matters:
- Child custody
- Support issues (child/spousal support)
- The division of finances and property
- Parenting and visitation rights
- Marital agreements
- Paternity matters
Depending on the nature of the dispute, a family lawyer can act as an advisor, negotiator, mediator or litigator.
He or she can provide legal advice and representation in court, either at trial or during a mediation process that aims to achieve an agreeable out-of-court settlement.
Your lawyer can also help prepare the relevant legally binding documents such as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements and divorce settlement documentation.
Learn More → How to Succeed with your Alberta Divorce Mediation
What are the benefits of hiring a family lawyer in Alberta?
If you’re facing a family legal issue, there are multiple benefits of seeking help from an experienced family lawyer rather than trying to handle it all alone …
Knowledge of the relevant laws
The Family Law Act covers issues such as establishing parentage, guardianship of children, child support and spousal/adult interdependent partner (AIP) support.
With experience in handling cases involving these matters, a family lawyer can provide guidance on your legal rights and obligations, the legal processes involved, and the timelines involved in reaching a resolution.
Knowledge of the court procedures
Many people involved in family law issues have never had to be involved with the legal system in Alberta before. They do not know the court procedures, rules or legal processes. A family lawyer can explain everything you need to know.
Both the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court can resolve family law cases in Alberta. Depending on which court hears your case, you will be expected to follow certain rules and submit information in a certain way. Strict deadlines, procedures, and documentation requirements apply for every stage of family law cases from the beginning of a claim to the trial (if necessary) and enforcement of court orders.
Without a dedicated family lawyer, this can be a thoroughly daunting process — and there may be unexpected consequences if mistakes are made.
Your family lawyer will not only be there to guide you but will stay updated with the latest rules and requirements to make sure that there are no costly missteps.
Save time, money and stress
Your family lawyer can present the possible outcome scenarios to you and help set the right expectations for the outcome of your case.
Only around five percent of family legal matters reach the trial court. In most cases, a settlement is possible before that stage and this is usually beneficial for all parties. Knowing this and working with your lawyer towards a viable settlement can save a lot of time, money and stress.
Support, compassion, and guidance
The “average” family lawyer is different from lawyers in many other legal niches. A degree of compassion, understanding, and sensitivity towards the family dynamics are considered prerequisites for family lawyers because of the nature of the disputes they handle.
Many act not just as representatives in the court but also provide emotional support and guidance. They may need to mediate between disputing partners, look out for the best interests of the children or act in an advisory capacity to prevent a family issue from worsening.
Though most family lawyers are professionals at heart, they may develop a closer bond or connection to clients than many other lawyers because they have a “window” into the private lives of those they work for.
How to prepare to meet your family lawyer
Whether you intend to meet your family lawyer to discuss divorce or another family matter, it’s best to be ready by having the necessary documentation at your fingertips and preparing answers for the types of questions you will be asked.
Some of these questions may need to delve quite deeply into your life and it can be an emotional and stressful experience.
Questions may relate to the children, a financial (debt) situation, abusive or cheating behavior, and so on. Don’t be concerned that your private information will be disclosed to anyone else as lawyers and their clients enjoy an “attorney-client privilege”, which means that the information must be treated confidentially.
By understanding your exact circumstance, your family lawyer can assess your situation, advise you of your legal options, and recommend the next steps.
At Jennings Family Law in Calgary, our lawyers can help you resolve even the most complex of family law matters. Book a confidential case evaluation to get started,