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Family Lawyer vs. Divorce Lawyer – What’s the Difference?

If you are contemplating a divorce or dealing with any family-related legal issue, you probably have lots of questions. For example, along with questions about how best to handle your situation, you may also be wondering, “Should I hire a family lawyer or a divorce lawyer?”

The attorneys at McBride Bishop Law Group have earned a reputation for excellence in a wide range of family law and divorce matters. We understand the hardships you may be facing, and we have the skill and compassion to help you through this difficult time.

Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Divorce or Other Family-Related Legal Matter

While some lawyers handle divorces exclusively, most lawyers who handle divorces also handle other family law matters. So, in most cases, there is no difference between a “family lawyer” and a “divorce lawyer.” When choosing a lawyer, rather than focusing on labels, you should look for a professional who has experience helping individuals facing your particular set of circumstances. 

In fact, if you are preparing to go through a divorce, there are some important reasons not to choose a lawyer who only handles divorces. Getting divorced inherently involves a variety of family-related legal issues, and a lawyer who has experience outside of the divorce context will be able to provide key insights that you can use to make informed decisions. A family lawyer who understands how post-divorce disputes involving child custody, alimony, and other issues play out in real life will be able to use this understanding to help mitigate the risk of these issues arising after your divorce. 

What Does a Divorce Lawyer Do?

But, for purposes of this article, let’s refer to a lawyer who handles divorces as a “divorce lawyer.” When you hire a divorce lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will assist with matters including:

  • Getting Ready for Your Divorce – From collecting financial records to evaluating your priorities and preparing to address any challenges that may arise, there are several steps involved in getting ready for a divorce. 
  • Choosing the Best Way to Approach Your Divorce – Negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, and litigation are all good options under different circumstances. Your lawyer can help you decide which is best for you. 
  • Addressing Child-Related Issues – For parents, establishing child custody rights and accurately calculating child support are among the most important—and often the most challenging—aspects of the divorce process.  
  • Identifying and Dividing Your Marital Assets – When getting divorced, spouses must identify their separate assets (which are not subject to division) and their marital assets (which are subject to division). Then, they must divide their marital assets in accordance with Maryland law. 
  • Calculating Spousal Support (Alimony) if Warranted – In addition to helping with child and property-related issues, your divorce lawyer can also determine if alimony is warranted in your divorce. If so, your lawyer can assist with calculating an appropriate alimony award. 
  • Resolving Differences During the Divorce Process – Even if you and your spouse are both ready to get divorced, you will almost certainly have differences that you will need to resolve during the divorce process.  
  • Finalizing Your Divorce – Finally, once the process is over, your divorce lawyer can make the necessary court filings to bring your marriage to an end. Then, you can start your post-divorce life knowing that you made informed decisions every step of the way. 

What Does a Family Lawyer Do? 

Along with representing spouses during their divorces, family lawyers may provide legal representation for a variety of other family-related legal matters. For example, an experienced family lawyer will typically be able to assist with matters such as:

  • Child Custody Disputes – Family lawyers handle child custody disputes for parents, grandparents, and other family members following both divorces and separations. 
  • Child Support Disputes – Family lawyers handle child support disputes as well. This includes helping parents enforce their right to collect child support when necessary. 
  • Establishing and Terminating Parental Rights – Family lawyers also represent parents, children, and other individuals in paternity disputes, emancipation proceedings, and other matters involving the establishment and termination of parental rights. 
  • Annulments – In certain circumstances, spouses can cancel their marriage by filing for an annulment rather than ending their marriage through a divorce. A family lawyer can determine if you qualify for an annulment, and file on your behalf if so.
  • Post-Divorce Alimony and Property Disputes – Along with child-related disputes, family lawyers can also provide representation for post-divorce disputes involving the payment of alimony (or failure to pay alimony) and property rights not fully addressed during the divorce process. 
  • Adoptions – Family lawyers also guide individuals and couples through the adoption process. A family lawyer can explain your options (i.e., public vs. private adoption), prepare you for your home study, and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. 
  • Domestic Violence – Finally, many family lawyers also represent spouses, partners, and other family members in domestic violence matters. If you or someone you love needs protection from physical or emotional abuse, you should speak with a family lawyer right away.

Do You Need a Family Lawyer or Divorce Lawyer in Maryland? 

Do you need a family lawyer or divorce lawyer in Maryland? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a confidential consultation at McBride Bishop Law Group, please call (410) 390-3101 or tell us how we can help online today.