Family Law: By Any Other Name

“I need a ‘this-kind-of‘ lawyer. Is that what you are?”

All lawyers get calls like that.

Many areas of law go by a single, universally accepted name. For example, personal injury law is personal injury law. Immigration law is immigration law. Clients with these types of legal problems have an easy time figuring out can help them.

Some other areas of law may be known by a couple of different names. For example, labor law may go by the term employment law. Real estate law may be called property law. Wills law may be referred to as estate planning law. Clients with those types of legal problems have it a little bit tougher figuring out who can help them, but probably not too much so.

Then there is the area of law that I practice: helping people with legal problems involving people in a family relationship to them.

Lawyers in my practice area get calls like:

“I need a … uh … uh … lawyer. Let me explain the problem. … Can you help me with that?”

Considering how many people face legal problems with family members every single day, it may be surprising at first blush that clients with these types of problems often have a very tough time identifying what kind of lawyer to turn to for help.

But it shouldn’t be. First of all, my area of law goes by more names than most. Consider:

  1. Divorce Law
  2. Matrimonial Law
  3. Domestic Relations Law
  4. Family Law and
  5. Marital Law

Secondly, the complexity doesn’t end with the nomenclature. The complex and varied legal problems that clients may have with family members may summon them to family court. And, not infrequently, also to domestic violence court. And sometimes also to juvenile court criminal court probate court and / or civil court.

Regardless, all five names above refer to the same area of law that I practice. These practice areas are all the same roses, just by other names.

And we divorce/ matrimonial/ domestic relations/ family/ marital lawyers take to whatever courts we must to solve our clients legal problems involving people in a family relationship to them. And these different divisions of the courts are, for these clients’ purposes, also all the same roses, just by other names.

The name of the problem or practice area or court is just a superficial question of form. As clients instinctively know, what matters is the substance of the problem and whether the lawyer has the knowledge, experience and skills to solve it in whichever court it must be solved. Regardless of what other names the problem, area of law or court may be known by.