When someone calls our office looking for free Illinois legal guidance, the first thing we typically say is “How can I help you?” We want to hear what you are looking for in your own words and we’ll ask questions as needed.

Sometimes people tell us they have no idea what type of lawyer they need. Other times they know exactly what they want but just want to know who’s best for their case. And other times they think they know what they are looking for, but are actually looking for the wrong thing. That’s most common when people say their case involves family law.

When some people hear the words family law, they think it means cases involving their family. About once a week I get a call from someone who says they want a family law attorney, but upon further talking we realize what they really meant was guardianship or probate or orders of protection or even just regular civil litigation.

The reality is that family law doesn’t mean legal situations that involve your family. Suing your brother for taking something that belongs to you has nothing to do with family law.

What family law is in the legal world is anything related to divorce, custody, child support, QDRO’s etc. These are cases that are handled in a specific courtroom called family law court. So it’s usually a marriage or a situation where the issue involves a child between you and a now or soon to be ex.

So if someone says they are a family law attorney, it’s really just another way to say that they are a divorce attorney. If you go to the over issues relating to someone’s death or property or suing a family member, they might take your case, but it doesn’t mean that they are the best choice to do that. If your case involves the asset of a deceased family member for example, you’d be better served by hiring a lawyer who handles probate and estate related matters on a daily basis.

This isn’t the only area of law that confuses people by its name. Workers’ compensation has to do with job injuries, not employee pay. That’s another one we get a lot of confused calls about.

All of this is one reason we started this website way back in 2001. We wanted to provide a service that could educate the public and answer any questions at no cost and hopefully in a “plain English” way. If you have any questions you can call us any time at 312-346-5320.