When you’re searching for the right person to deal with your legal issues, it can be confusing to see terms like “divorce lawyers” and “family lawyers” thrown around interchangeably.
For the most part, these two terms are interchangeable in Canadian legal discourse. If there is one point of differentiation we would make, it’s that someone who refers to themselves as a divorce lawyer sees their role as more narrowly defined, whereas a family lawyer sees themselves as someone who handles all manner of family law matters, including, but not limited to, divorce.
To help you sort out the differences and determine which type of specialist is best for your legal situation, Guardian Law wrote this article for your perusal.
A Brief Summary Of The Differences
Both the family law attorney and divorce lawyer are capable of similar things. They both provide legal advice to their clients regarding divorce and issues concerning the dissolution of a marriage. They will both consider legal issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.
However, the duties of a family law attorney are broader. They might help you with aspects of the divorce relating to adoption, paternity, domestic violence, and prenuptial agreements, and might also have further expertise in issues regarding couples that were cohabitating rather than being married.
How A Divorce Lawyer Helps
Divorce lawyers will give you legal representation when you’re undergoing a separation or divorce. In almost all situations, we recommend at least consulting a divorce lawyer. Even if you would prefer not to go to court, they can help recommend alternative paths to you.
Here are the various tasks that divorce lawyers undertake.
- Explaining the divorce process: The divorce lawyer will kick off the process by explaining the entire process to you, the client. This includes the legal requirements, the different stages of the divorce, and the possible outcomes. We can’t know about outcomes for certain, but an experienced divorce lawyer will have a good idea of how your specific type of case ends up turning out.
- Negotiating settlements: At the beginning of the process, divorce lawyers of each respective party will negotiate on behalf of their clients to reach a settlement agreement with the other party. These negotiations will relate to property division, child support, and other issues we discussed earlier.
- Representing you in court: Divorce lawyers always try to find a settlement amenable to both parties. However, sometimes a settlement cannot be reached, and a divorce lawyer will represent their client in court during the divorce trial.
- Drafting legal documents: One of the lawyer’s most critical roles is the drafting of legal documents, such as divorce petitions, settlement agreements, and court orders, on behalf of their client. Certainly, you’ll need a few of these during your proceedings, you won’t be able to craft them yourself.
- Protecting your interests: You should always ensure that the divorce lawyer has your best interests in mind. A good divorce lawyer works to protect your interests, both in negotiations and in court.
Pros of Hiring A Divorce Lawyer
- Experience: When you hire a divorce lawyer, you’re working with someone with specialized legal knowledge and expertise in divorce law. They understand the intricacies of divorce proceedings and can provide valuable legal advice and guidance throughout the process.
- Objectivity: During an emotionally charged divorce, it helps to have a voice of reason to help you sort through things. A divorce lawyer will help you make informed decisions based on the law and your best interests, rather than your feelings.
- Effective communication: Divorce lawyers know all the processes and formalities associated with divorce. If you were to draft a particular document yourself, the opposing lawyer or the judge likely would not take it seriously because of all the details you’d be missing. Having a divorce lawyer allows you to communicate effectively with your spouse’s lawyer and the court, ensuring your interests are protected, and your voice is heard.
- Negotiation skills: To obtain the best possible outcome, divorce lawyers possess a wide range of negotiation skills. They understand how these negotiations usually shake out, so they are realistic, but still aim high.
- Reduced stress for you: Experiencing a divorce can be emotionally and mentally taxing. By hiring a divorce lawyer, you can reduce your stress levels and focus on your emotional and mental well-being, knowing that your case is in capable hands. They’ll also add some degree of predictability and consistency to the process, which helps your emotional stability too.
- Avoiding rookie mistakes: As we alluded to earlier, trying to go about this process independently is a massive risk. Divorce proceedings involve complex legal procedures, and mistakes can be costly. By hiring a divorce lawyer, you can avoid common mistakes that could hurt your case.
Cons Of Hiring A Divorce Lawyer
- Cost: Hiring a divorce lawyer can be expensive, and the cost may vary depending on the complexity of your case and the lawyer’s experience. If the case drags on, then the expense can become hard to manage. This could be a significant financial burden for some individuals. In such cases, we highly recommend mediation.
- Lengthy process: In rare instances, hiring a lawyer may actually prolong the proceedings, which can be frustrating for those who want to move on with their lives. That said, this only applies to cases where one side decides to escalate the proceedings to an unreasonably intense level. Unfortunately, you could instruct your lawyer to get things done efficiently, but the other party might disregard these wishes and take things to a ridiculous place. Of course, your livelihood and your emotional well-being are part of the damages.
How A Family Law Attorney Helps
Family lawyers will help you resolve all manner of family law disputes. As we noted earlier, divorce isn’t the only possible resolution to such disputes. And a family lawyer can aid greatly in allowing you to choose a path that doesn’t require lengthy court proceedings. They are often able to guide you through the mediation process more effectively than anyone.
Let’s review the various duties of a family law attorney
- Handling divorce cases: Yes, family lawyers can do it all. And part of that is the divorce case. If your separation requires court proceedings, a family attorney will be there to guide you through.
- Assisting with adoption and guardianship: While a family law attorney usually assists clients with the legal process of adopting a child or becoming a guardian of a child, there are also special considerations to be made in the event of a divorce. Once a marriage ends, the attorney could also help you resolve these pressing matters.
- Drafting legal documents: Whether your marriage is about to begin or end, family lawyers feature prominently, helping you draft prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, custody agreements, and support agreements.
- Mediating disputes: A family law attorney may act as a mediator to help resolve disputes between family members outside of court. For instance, custody disputes and child support issues figure prominently. Moreover, they can help with their negotiation skills should the case get tricky.
Pros Of Hiring A Family Law Attorney
- Legal expertise: Bringing a great deal of experience to the table, divorce lawyers are perfect for navigating any family law dispute. Especially if they collaborate with other lawyers in their law firm that specialize in an area you need.
- Convenience: A family attorney can take care of all the legal procedures involved in your case, including filling out and filing paperwork, scheduling court appearances, and dealing with the other party’s attorney. This can save you time and energy, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life.
- Breadth: By signing on with a family attorney, you’ll likely get access to someone well-versed in all the different outcomes and scenarios for your case. Something that might seem complex to a more narrowly-focused lawyer, such as child custody in the case of an adopted child, would be a normal proceeding to a family lawyer.
Cons Of Hiring A Family Law Attorney
- Lack of specialization: A family lawyer that does not specialize in divorce could end up being detrimental to your case. Hopefully, such a lawyer will have the sense to recommend you to a different lawyer at their firm who has a better understanding of your legal rights.
Which Specialist Is Right For You?
It could be easy to brush the question off and say that both types of lawyers are the same. Frankly, there is a large overlap.
However, if your main goal is divorce and only divorce, then the logical solution would be to choose a divorce lawyer. Even if family law attorneys can handle a divorce case, you’ll likely get a higher degree of specialization from the divorce lawyer and therefore, see a quicker end to your dispute. If your ex-spouse and their lawyer are making things difficult, you’ll also want a divorce lawyer who is experienced in court rather than a family lawyer without that experience.
If your divorce is more complex and involves other issues that do not relate directly to the divorce, such as child abuse, you could be better off working with a family lawyer. They have the know-how to ensure that these matters are rectified as soon as possible. They don’t exactly fall under the purview of divorce law either.
If you want to deal with a divorce outside of court, a family law attorney might be all you need to draw up a quick separation agreement. In cases where your separation is fairly amicable, the attorney might be the best hire. They’ll gather all the necessary documents for you.
At the end of the day, you want to hire a legal specialist that corresponds the most closely with your needs. Family law is a topic that is more extensive than divorce law, so be careful to outline all the issues that divorce entails first.
Receive Legal DIVORCE Counsel From Guardian Law
Whether you are looking to separate on amicable terms, or you’re headed for a more drawn-out divorce, you need to have experienced lawyers on your side. Therefore, you should consider the services of our lawyers at Guardian Law.
We handle your separation process from beginning to end, with lawyers who specialize in all facets of divorce law, including:
- Marriage Agreements
- Separation Agreements
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Spousal Support
- Division Of Property & Debts
- Custody & Guardianship
- Child Support
It’s better to know your options than to leave everything to chance. Contact us today to see how your situation can be resolved, or if it needs resolving at all.