Most people who have never needed legal advice assume that one lawyer is the same as any other – that you would call the same person regardless of whether you were drawing up a contract or trying to stay out of jail. But in reality there are many different types of lawyers – corporate lawyers and criminal lawyers and family lawyers and even entertainment lawyers. The type of lawyer the average person is most likely to need in their lifetime is a family lawyer.
Family lawyers deal with the aspects of the law that relate to the home and the relationships between the people who live in it. Family lawyers deal with marriages and divorces, annulments, custody disputes, adoptions, domestic partnerships, juvenile delinquency, and paternity testing. You might need a family lawyer if you decide you should have a prenuptial agreement before marriage and you might return to the same lawyer when the marriage doesn’t work out and you want to get divorced. Family lawyers also get involved in cases of child abuse and breaches of child custody and visitation rules such as parental kidnapping.
Regionality is just as important as experience or track record when it comes to hiring family lawyers. Hamilton Ontario may have very different family laws than Calgary, Alberta or New York City, so you need someone who was trained in the laws you will be dealing with. This cross-region incompatibility most often shows up in cases involving same sex couples whose marriage or civil union may be legal in one jurisdiction and illegal in another. However, in a case where a family has split up and moved apart, you may be dealing with two sets of laws and the question of which jurisdiction should try the case. In times like these, your family lawyer may join forces with another family lawyer from the other jurisdiction.