What is Family Law?
Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, divorce, and child custody, among others. Attorneys practicing family law can represent clients in family court proceedings or in related negotiations and can also draft important legal documents such as court petitions or property agreements. Some family law attorneys even specialize in adoption, paternity, emancipation, or other matters not usually related to divorce.
Most family lawyers represent clients in divorce proceedings and other matters related to divorce. But family law is a relatively broad practice area, including such issues as foster care and reproductive rights. Since family law matters hit so close to home, having a trusted legal professional by your side can help you ensure your loved ones are properly represented and protected during any legal process.
Ms. Rizzo’s practice is dedicated exclusively to Family Law, a dynamic and challenging legal field where clients face some of the most personal and difficult decisions of a their lives. Ms. Rizzo guides clients through cases with compassion, conviction and orientation to detail and to client goals.
Ms. Rizzo started her legal career more than 16 years ago as a civil litigator in the area of medical malpractice defense. After several years a litigator, she availed herself of the opportunity for more intense trial and litigation experience at the Office of the City Attorney in San Diego, where she worked in the criminal division and gained vast courtroom and negotiation experience as a Deputy City Attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit. After working as a prosecutor for several years, she transitioned to Family Law domestic abuse matters and broadened her practice to cases in all aspects of Family Law.
The most common reasons to hire a family law attorney include:
- Divorce: Each partner hires his or her own attorney, who will help devise a settlement plan in order to avoid a trial. Divorce attorneys typically are skilled at dividing marital property, calculating spousal support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support (if applicable).
- Child Custody / Child Support: Court orders and settlement agreements involving both custody and support usually are included in the larger divorce case, but may be revisited as conditions change. For instance, child support may be altered after the non-custodial parent's financial situation changes.
- Paternity: In most cases, paternity cases are filed by the mother in an effort to secure child support payments from an absent father. But sometimes biological fathers file for paternity in order to have a relationship with their child. Paternity typically is determined through DNA testing.
States have the right to determine "reasonable formal requirements" for marriage, including age and legal capacity, as well as the rules and procedures for divorce and other family law matters.
Legal services are intended to cover what most attorneys do in the modern practice of law and includes services provided as the following, subject to the specific provisions of the policy:
- An attorney or notary public
- An arbitrator or mediator
- A title insurance agent
- A government affairs lobbyist or advisor
- An administrator, conservator, executor, guardian, trustee, receiver, or in any similar court appointed fiduciary capacity (see policy particulars)
- An author of legal research papers, including CLE, where remuneration is less that or equal to $25,000
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