Family Law Guide

What you should know about family law

Get to know what makes up family law

Family law is a broad area, which many situations fall under–some more complex than others. Family law cases can become quite complex, and even downright confusing. There are quite a few common situations that might call for hiring an attorney–but how do you know if it’s appropriate to talk to a family lawyer? It can be helpful to understand what types of situations might fall under family law, as well as when and why one might hire a family lawyer. We’ll discuss what family law is, some of the more common family law situations you might see, and how you might know when and why it’s a good idea to speak with a family lawyer.

Understanding Family Law

Family law, in many ways, is exactly what it might sound like. Family law pertains to issues that surround families–such as marriage, adoption, child custody, child support, guardianship, and more. In general, family law deals with matters that arise specifically around family. As many of these matters can become quite complex, many attorneys specialize specifically in family law. Family law attorneys are experts within the field and use their expertise to represent individuals facing these types of issues and help them navigate the world of family law.


A common situation where family law becomes important is when married couples seek to divorce. Divorces have become very common in society today. In fact, provisional data from the CDC (excluding a few statesshows that, in 2020, there were somewhere around 5.1 marriages per 1,000 population–and 2.3 divorces per 1,000 population in the United States. Divorces can be complex situations, sometimes fraught with assets to be divided, distressed ex-partners, child custody disputes, and other complicated factors. Many individuals seek legal counsel and legal representation in order to help them navigate the complex process of divorcing. There are a number of reasons an individual going through a divorce might want to hire an attorney: a family lawyer can help them understand the law, and how it applies to them, build a case with their best interests in mind, and, as an attorney, can be their voice in a courtroom.

Child Custody

Another common situation where family law applies is in matters of child custody. Child custody, like divorce and other family law matters, can become quite complex. Parents and guardians can be extremely emotionally invested in outcomes, and the law can be confusing to navigate. Parents or guardians facing custody disputes might reach out to an attorney for many reasons, including help understanding the law and what their options are, help to build a case and move forward, help to protect their parental rights, and–if necessary–representation in court. As child custody disputes can become emotionally charged situations, individuals might also look for their attorney to help them mediate communication with other guardians.


Guardianship is a situation that can also be quite complex. With legal guardianship, one person is able to essentially make decisions on the behalf of another who is considered unable to for themself. Someone who is legally considered unable to make their own decisions might be referred to as a “ward.” There are many reasons one might seek guardianship; the health of their loved one may be failing, and with it, their capacity to make decisions. Guardianship can also be appointed over children in instances where their parents are unable to or will be unable to properly care for them. Those seeking guardianship might seek out an attorney to help them navigate this complex process. A proposed ward (the person over whom guardianship is being sought) may also seek an attorney to represent them and help them navigate the process.

Child Support

Child support is another common family law situation, where individuals involved might be interested in talking to or hiring a lawyer. Child support payments can become a major point of contention between parents or guardians, and the situation can quickly become complex. Those either seeking changes to their child support arrangement, seeking child support, or paying child support, might be interested in seeking legal advice or legal counsel in order to resolve disputes, get a fair deal, help set up a fair arrangement, or just better understand how the law works and what their rights are.

Matters After Marriage

After a divorce, new challenges sometimes arise, which can become quite complex themselves. A number of issues can come up again after a divorce, even if they, at one time, seemed settled. There are situations such as where an ex-spouse may seek a new child support, child custody, or visitation arrangement, or an adjustment to a spousal support arrangement, for instance.  As circumstances change, so can the issues that arise during and after a divorce. Many individuals seek the help of a family lawyer to help them navigate situations that can arise after a divorce. These types of situations might include enforcement issues with divorce agreements, one ex-spouse seeking a new arrangement in spousal support, child support, child custody, and more.

Orders of Protection

Unfortunately, not everyone feels safe in their own home. There are situations where one individual might feel unsafe and seek an order of protection. An order of protection might bar a respondent from being able to make contact with the petitioner in various ways. If you’re seeking an order of protection, you might seek out a family lawyer who can help you understand what your options are, and help you navigate the process of obtaining an order of protection. A respondent also may seek out a family lawyer in order to help them understand and protect their rights and navigate the process.

The Bottom Line

Family law covers a broad and diverse range of legal situations, many of which are quite common. Aside from the situations that we’ve explored, family law also covers situations such as adoption, marriage, and more. The truth is, a lot of situations fall under family law! By learning more about which situations might be considered issues of family law, and getting a better understanding of when and why you should hire a family lawyer in these situations, you can be better prepared should any of these situations arise in your own life.

There are numerous instances where consulting with and hiring an attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of a family law case. If you’re dealing with a family law case in Tennessee, you don’t need to do it alone. If you’re looking for a Nashville attorney who will fight for your best interests,  be sure to reach out to the Law Office of J. Ryan Johnson, where you’ll be able to set up a free 30-minute in-person consultation.

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