Family law matters are among the most difficult, complicated, and emotionally draining issues a person may face. When you are involved in a family law matter, such as divorce or a child custody case, you need a family law attorney who understands what is at stake and can manage your case compassionately and efficiently.
When divorcing spouses are unable to reach an agreement, even with the assistance of a neutral third party, they must resort to family law litigation. What is it exactly, and what does it imply? Let’s find out.
What Is Family Law?
Family law is a domain of legal practice that focuses on family-related matters such as marriage, divorce, alimony, and child custody, among others. Family law covers rules, laws, and judicial proceedings regarding family.
Not all family law matters require the expertise of a professional attorney, but child custody and divorce frequently do. Family law attorneys represent clients in family court procedures or negotiations. Their job is to offer valuable legal counsel and assist clients in preparing legal documents.
What Is Litigation in Family Law?
When parties can’t agree on an issue, they bring their case to court, and the court decides on their behalf. The legal term for this procedure is litigation.
The process of resolving legal issues between divorced couples and mitigating the challenges resulting from divorce is known as family law litigation. Post-divorce conflicts are another type of family law litigation. They also include disagreements between parties who are not married but in a relationship resembling marriage.
Family litigation is often time-consuming and expensive. It can have a long-term harmful impact on all the parties involved, especially children. Typically, the aim is to settle as many family law matters as possible without litigation, like collaborative family law or mediation. However, there are situations when ex-partners can’t handle the conflict and need professional assistance.
Complex Family Law Litigation
Complex litigation in family law could be described as the requirement to bring in an expert witness to opine and testify on a relevant matter. These specialists often include child psychologists, employability experts, forensic accountants, and others.
When Is Litigation Necessary?
In some family law cases, litigation is not only necessary but unavoidable. Here are some situations that may require litigation:
- The animosity between the parties
- History of domestic violence
- Children at immediate risk due to inadequate parenting arrangements or a lack of finances
- Settling disputes through mediation or settlement in family and divorce law failed, or one of the parties refused to participate in settlement-oriented procedures.
- The parties involved refuse to disclose financial details.
- The power imbalance between the parties
Even if legal action has been initiated, there’s still a possibility of resolving issues before a family law trial.
What Can Be Litigated?
After litigation, if a meaningful change in circumstance occurs, there is still a chance to modify the child custody and support order. Other issues, like division of property and grounds for divorce, can only be litigated once.
Some of the key issues that can be disputed with the help of a family litigator are:
Child Custody and Support
In many circumstances, soon-to-be ex-couples are unable to reach an agreement on a custody or visitation plan for their children. In those situations, the court will make a custody decision that is in the children’s best interest, as that decision is based on several factors. The court may assign an attorney to represent the children in heavily disputed cases.
Regarding child support, some guidelines are usually followed to calculate it. Aside from using child support calculator software, courts consider a variety of criteria.
Sometimes in divorce litigations, one of the parents may disagree over who the father of the child is. When paternity needs to be established, the court may order the father to participate in a DNA test to prove paternity. In other circumstances, the parties are unmarried and agree on the father but still require help developing parenting plans.
Division of Property
Parties can sometimes resolve property issues in a divorce settlement agreement. Property distribution laws differ by state, encompassing whether the property was owned before or acquired during the marriage. It is not uncommon for ex-spouses to disagree over who owns the property and who should get it.
If a family lawsuit is unavoidable, making the appropriate decisions is critical.
On a Final Note
Litigation can be an expensive and lengthy process. It could take up to a year to get to trial from the moment you file your petition. Litigation should be your last resort if all other options have been exhausted.
For these reasons, it’s important to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to improve your chances.