Understanding Family Law Proceedings

Understanding Family Law Proceedings

Understanding Family Law Proceedings

The percentage of married couples divorcing in America has decreased over the last few decades, which is good news.

However, the numbers are still higher than in the early 1970s. 

Research from the American Psychological Association shows that around 40-50% of couples split up in their first marriage. Unfortunately, second marriages have an even harder time; around 60-67% fail, and the couple divorces.

What is Family Law?

Family law helps people deal with legal issues in personal relationships. This includes marriage, divorce, caring for children, and domestic problems. Family lawyers support clients going through hard personal problems. They assist with the legal parts so people can focus on their lives.

Some specific things family lawyers do:

  • Help with divorce and dividing money and property.

  • Determine arrangements for supporting spouses and children.

  • Deal with adopting children or surrogate parents.

  • Address child welfare problems like foster care or abuse.

  • Help get restraining orders against abusive family members.

The main goals of family law are:

  • Resolve fights over things like child custody or inheritance.

  • Guide people through the legal system during difficult situations like divorce.

  • Make the process less bitter and more fair.

Why do People go to Family Court?


There are many reasons families end up needing to go to family court. The whole process of dealing with family changes is emotional and has a lot of divisions of assets for each member. A family court aims to resolve these personal conflicts smoothly while protecting family members' rights under the law:


When a married couple decides to end their marriage, they must go through the divorce process. This involves dividing up assets and property, agreeing on alimony if needed, and working out child custody and support if there are kids. Family court helps make these decisions legally binding.

Child Custody

Figuring out child custody, like who the kids will live with, is pretty complicated. Family court listens to both parents and makes a legal custody decision based on what's best for the children.

Establish Child Support

Family court also determines fair child support payment amounts from the non-custodial parent to help provide for the kids. If needed, they can modify existing child support orders.

Modify a Child Support Order

Sometimes, families need to revisit existing child custody or child support agreements if situations change. Family courts can modify these orders.

Obtain Alimony

During a divorce, one spouse may request alimony or spousal support from the other. The court determines appropriate alimony awards.

Resolve Domestic Violence Issues

Sadly, sometimes, there is domestic abuse within families. Going to family court helps victims get protection orders or restraining orders against violent family members. This makes it legally enforceable for the abuser to keep their distance.

Tips for Surviving Family Law Proceedings


Going to family court can feel overwhelming since most people aren't familiar with all the procedures and rules. It's understandable to feel nervous! But there are some things you can do to prepare yourself and know what to expect:

  1. Mind your manners: Always address the Judge as "Your Honor" and speak respectfully. Stand when the Judge enters and leaves the room. Follow the court officer's rules for when to sit and stand while speaking.

  2. Check-in properly: Let the Judge's Associate know you've arrived and provide your and the other party's names. You can ask to speak with the duty lawyer if you don't have your own lawyer. Sitting in on another case can help you understand procedures, too.

  3. Come prepared: Make sure you've submitted any documents the Judge previously requested by the deadlines given. Bring copies of the necessary paperwork to your case in an organized folder for easy access.

  4. Have realistic expectations: Very few family disputes going to court end with a Judge's decision. Most are settled through compromise and negotiation along the way. Be open to mediation and talking reasonably with the other party.

  5. Silence phones and devices: Make sure cell phones and other electronics are turned off or silenced so they don't disrupt the court. Devices may even be prohibited in some courtrooms.

  6. Seek support: Going through family court can be isolating. Lean on trusted friends and family for moral support during this challenging process.

  7. Work with a lawyer: A family lawyer deals with these cases daily, so rely on their expertise, not your own. Find one you feel comfortable with. They'll help you navigate the complicated legal system during stressful times.

  8. Learn the lingo: A lot of legal terminology is thrown around. Do some research so you understand phrases like "family dispute resolution" and acronyms like "ICL" (Independent Children's Lawyer). It will make things less confusing.

  9. Arrive early: Give yourself ample time to get through security and find the right courtroom. Being late will not go over well with the Judge.

  10. Dress appropriately: Wear respectable, conservative clothing to court. Business attire gives the impression you take the proceedings seriously.

Summing up

It's understandable to feel anxious about going to family court. The legal system is complicated and can really stress people out. But doing some preparation can make the whole experience less intimidating.

Before you go, learn about common legal terms to know what's being discussed. Wear clean, respectable clothes to show you take things seriously. Get to the courthouse early so you have time to get settled. Bring paperwork that's relevant to your case, too. The proceedings may feel turbulent and emotional, but remember, you deserve fair solutions under the law.

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Luke Fitzpatrick

Tech Expert

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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