The third most common reason people hire an attorney is for family law issues. The most common need for this type of lawyer would be divorce.
Sometimes after a divorce, the need arises for modification of the original divorce decree. These types of changes might include visitation rights, child custody, the collection of child support, spousal support or division of property.
Family law attorneys also handle cases involving paternity and guardianship.
The area of guardianship would apply in several situations. One example would be if you were caring for someone else's child other than an agency placed foster children.
If you are providing care for a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to provide that care, establishing legal guardianship would help you make decisions concerning the child when the parents cannot or should not.
This guardianship does not guarantee that the parent cannot come and take the child but it certainly helps establish that the welfare of the child is your responsibility.
Another example of the need for guardianship would be a case of a person being incapacitated by injury or disability. This could be the result of an accident, disease, mental or physical disabilities or aging.
The purpose of guardianship is to appoint a responsible adult to make decisions about care, finances and other life decisions for a person who is incapable of making those decisions on their own. The role of a guardian is to facilitate the independence and self-reliance of the person they are acting on behalf of.
An example of this would be a person that suffers a coma after a serious accident. The coma victim will need someone to act on their behalf regarding medical treatment and other financial and non-financial decisions.
Adoption is also a matter that falls under the category of family law. Adopting a child is a wonderful life event that is accompanied by legal matters that will require professional help to successfully navigate.
A family law attorney can help you negotiate fair terms with the birth parents as well as representing you in court hearings and communicating with adoption agencies on your behalf.
Whether you are planning a local adoption with an agency or a foreign adoption, an experienced family law attorney will be able to make sure that your documents are in order and you and the child are protected by the law.
Still, other cases for the family law arena would be cases involving juvenile delinquency, child rights, and emancipation.
Emancipation would be a minor (under the age of 18) who wishes to be legally responsible for him/herself.
A situation that might lead to this desire would be if the minor were married or the parents are abusive, or if they have an objection to the parents living situation or they have been kicked out of their parents home.
The laws regarding emancipation differ from state to state and so it would be wise to counsel with an attorney to review the laws that pertain to your particular situation.
4. You've Been Charged with a Crime
Criminal law is the fourth most common reason that an attorney would be hired.
If a person is being charged with a crime then they would need an attorney that handles criminal law.
Public Defense Attorney
For people who cannot afford an attorney in the United States, they can actually have one appointed for them.
Those attorneys are called public defenders and their services are free to the defendant.
They are paid by the government to come and represent people that cannot afford their own criminal defense attorney. Most of these lawyers have extensive prior experience with the judges and the prosecuting attorneys that will try your case.
They have likely negotiated with them on many prior cases. Usually, they are backed by offices that have investigators and researchers on staff that can work on your behalf.
They also have other resources available to them to assist indigent defendants.
Private Criminal Defense Attorney
Those who can afford their own attorney will probably be hiring a private criminal defense attorney.
One advantage to hiring one's own attorney to represent them is that their caseload may not be quite as full as a public defender and so the defendant may receive more individualized and focused representation.
Also because they are being paid by you, they may prioritize more time to devote to your defense. In either case, the law provides for a defendant to receive fair representation in a court of law in matters regarding criminal charges.