When people think of family law, they may picture divorce proceedings or disputes over child custody and visitation. However, this multifaceted legal practice area covers a wide range of issues that affect our loved ones. In some cases, family law matters must be resolved through litigation; in others, mediation and negotiation can help. If you are considering a career in this challenging field, it is important to understand the complexities of family law.
The Impact of Child Support on Children’s Lives
Child support is an essential form of financial assistance for custodial parents. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of both parties, child support payments are often not paid as ordered. In fact, about 25 percent of custodial parents are behind on their child support payments. Many of those who are delinquent in their payments live in poverty and face significant enforcement actions, which can jeopardize employment, housing, and family relationships.
Rather than punishing those who do not pay as ordered, policymakers should consider the underlying causes of delinquency in this important public program. Several factors may be contributing to these trends, including the racial context of welfare reform in the 1960s and 1970s that stigmatized poor black mothers; the failure to address a regressive tax structure; and the prevalence of high parental conflict and domestic violence, which can lead to higher levels of problem behavior by children (Ramchandani and Psychogiou 2009).
In addition to handling divorce cases, family lawyers also handle issues related to adoption, foster care, civil unions, and similar legal matters. They can also assist with the drafting of estate plans and trusts. These attorneys are frequently called upon to provide counsel in situations of domestic violence and elder abuse, as well.
As the legal landscape continues to change, it is important for family lawyers to stay abreast of emerging trends. This will allow them to help their clients navigate the complexities that may lie ahead.
The Future of Family Law
While a career in family law can be exciting and rewarding, it is also demanding. If you are interested in this area of the law, you can gain early exposure by participating in clinical programs, externships, and internships while a student at law school. These opportunities can help you decide if this is the right path for you.
In addition, there are a number of online resources for those interested in learning more about family law. For example, there are websites that list the programs offered by different law schools and provide information about the course offerings and experiential learning opportunities. Additionally, many family law professors and alumni are willing to speak with prospective students about their experiences in the field. This can be a valuable resource in determining if a career in family law is the right choice for you.