Why Are Family Law And Divorce Disputes Handled Separately?

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When dealing with a divorce, there are scenarios where the family law issues attached to the case will have to be handled separately. You might wonder why your divorce attorney has to either act in this separate capacity or defer to a family attorney. Let's look at when this may happen and what is the legal logic behind it.

Does This Always Happen?

In the strictest sense, the answer is yes. When a divorce attorney files a suit to end a marriage, the matter is always handled apart from related family law issues. Other concerns, such as child support and custody, are segregated from the divorce.

This occurs even if both ex-partners are splitting amicably and are able to deal with everything in a single go. Although they'll each have their respective lawyers draw up documents to handle both sets of problems, those documents are sent to the court in separate briefs. You might sit down with your ex in a single session to sign all the paperwork, but those papers are going on separate paths to different parts of the legal system.


Some of it is just legalistic simplicity. Yes, what seems complex to you or any other non-attorney is simpler for the family court officers, the judge, and both sides' lawyers to deal with. The divorce stuff goes down the divorce chute, and the family law matters go down their chute.

Even a seemingly simple case can have some complexities. In such instances, the court can save itself some headaches by handling them separately.

Contentious Cases

There is also a bigger legal concern when the two parties are going through a contentious divorce. Particularly, discussions from the divorce proceeding mustn't bleed into the family court issues.

For example, child support in most states is based on a formula. It's best to handle that calculation without thinking about how assets were divided during the divorce and whether one party received alimony.

Breaking the two matters up also protects both parties' rights. The questions on the family court side of the situation aren't framed by what happened in the divorce proceedings. If there was a verbal outburst during the divorce case, for example, the judge shouldn't have that on their mind when deciding child custody. Everyone can leave the divorce proceeding once it ends, take some time to cool off, and then come back a few weeks later to settle the family law issues.