If you lived with your significant other for years without being legally married and now you are going your own ways, you may be wondering if you need a family lawyer to resolve some family issues. For example, if you had children together and these children grew up in the home with both parents, do child custody laws apply? What if you shared a bank account and both of you contributed to it, even though one person made more money than the other? Do you really need a family lawyer, or will a civil lawyer do? The following answers should help you decipher which one of these lawyers you need when your long-term relationship is now coming to an end.
Children Born to the Relationship
If you do share children with your former partner, then yes, you will need a family lawyer. The family lawyer will assist you in fighting for placement and custody of your children, especially if you expect to get a lot of pushback from your former partner on this issue (i.e., he/she intends to get full custody and placement and not allow you to see the children). Child support is also part of the reason why you need a family law attorney on your side. The parent who gets full custody of the children usually gets child support payments awarded to him or her and the former partner is ordered to pay it. Under certain circumstances, support may be waived if one parent can prove that he or she is unable to pay at present, or support may be waived if 50/50 custody is granted to both parents and neither parent is at a financial disadvantage when it comes to providing for the children.
No Children, Just Property
If no children were born to you and your former partner, then your relationship may be viewed by the court as one of two things:
- A common-law marriage
- A long-term relationship that just dissolved
If the court determines that you and your partner were in a common-law marriage, property and debt responsibilities may be split equally by a judge in family court. In that case, you may want to have a family lawyer present so that you can acquire or reacquire items from the home that you want to keep. In the event that the court determines that your relationship was not a civil union or common-law marriage (just a long-term relationship), then you may need to seek out a civil law attorney. The civil law attorney would help you sue for property you want to retain after the dissolution of your relationship and help you recoup any money you feel your ex-partner owes you.
For more information about family law, contact a practice like Patton Hoversten & Berg PA.