Family Law and Practice: The Paralegal's Guide

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-01-01
  • Publisher: Pearson College Div
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For undergraduate courses in Family Law; specifically designed for paralegal students in degree and non-degree programs. This book thoroughly prepares students in the areas of family law they will most likely encounter in the real world (with an emphasis on the theoretical, procedural and practical aspects of the divorce process). This nuts-and-bolts textbook offers an easy-to-understand, entertaining, yet sufficiently thorough study of family law that provides students with a working knowledge they can take right from the classroom into professional practice.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Family Law Practice.
2. The Roots and Traditions of American Family Law.
3. Ethics in Family Law.
4. Prenuptial Agreements, Cohabitation, and Same-Sex Marriage.
5. Alimony.
6. Property and Debt Distribution.
7. Child Custody, Visitation, and Rights of Third Parties.
8. Child Support.
9. The Client Interview.
10. Initial and Responsive Pleadings.
11. Pendente Lite Motions and Orders.
12. The Discovery Process in Family Law.
13. Separation Agreements.
14. The Divorce Trial.
15. Postjudgment Divorce Matters.
16. State Intervention in Family Matters.


This book evolved from the need to have an understandable, interesting, and relevant textbook from which to teach and a book that would prepare paralegal students to respond successfully to the numerous demands in a real-world family law practice. The goal of this book is to thoroughly prepare students in the areas of family law that they are most likely to encounter in the real world. Therefore' "the major emphasis in this book is on the theoretical, procedural, and practical aspects of the divorce process with its attendant issues such as alimony, property distribution, child custody, and child support, as well as other matters arising after the divorce occurs, such as postjudgment modifications of orders for custody, child support, and alimony. The book is logically ordered to guide the student through the various theories underlying family law and the procedures that translate these theories into practice. There is a balance between chapters on theory and chapters that focus on practice. For instance, Chapter 1, "Introduction to Family Law Practice," addresses the practical aspects of working as a paralegal in a family law practice. Chapter 2, "The Roots and Traditions of American Family Law," provides an historical backdrop for the emergence of the changing and evolving theory of family law, including the changing views on the nature of marriage, and the role of women and children in a family. Chapter 3, "Ethics in Family Law," presents a mix of theory and practice in that it outlines the legal professional code of ethics and how it applies to a family law setting.- This chapter includes cases involving paralegals who violated various rules of ethics such as the divorce paralegal who slept with the client's husband and revealed confidential information regarding the case to him during the course of their affair. Chapter 4 deals with the issues of prenuptial agreements, cohabitation and same-sex marriage. Chapters 5 through 8 provide a black letter law overview of the four major areas encountered in the practice of family law: alimony, property and debt distribution, child custody, and child support. Along with a recitation of the rules, these chapters provide the theoretical justification for each rule and also provide excerpts of interesting and entertaining cases that demonstrate how some courts apply the legal principles of family law to decide disputes over the myriad of issues these areas embrace. Chapters 9 through 15 focus exclusively on practice and the paralegal's role in the process. These chapters contain examples of the type of documents prepared throughout the divorce process. These chapters also present model complaints, motions, orders, and agreements which the paralegal can modify to the requirements of his or her jurisdiction. Also included are selections of legal documents filed by celebrities, for example, Lucille Ball's divorce complaint against Desi Arnaz. The appendixes include Madonna and Sean Penn's separation agreement. Finally, Chapter 16 addresses the issue of state intervention in family matters, such as child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, and adoption. Although this book is national in scope, we have tried to provide cases, statutes, and forms from various jurisdictions. However, the need for students to become familiar with and knowledgeable about the law, procedure, and documents in their own jurisdiction is paramount. This need is addressed in the end-of-chapter exercises that require students to go out in the field--to their courthouses and law libraries--and acquire hands-on experience with their jurisdiction's statutes, cases, forms, and procedural rules. It is our hope that this book will be a long-time companion to the paralegal student who finds employment in a family law practice. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We wish to thank the following people for their support and encouragement in making this

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