Many people are introduced to the law and the judicial system when the breakup of a family is occurring. While the divorce rate in the U.S. has declined over the past three years, it is still high. According to various estimates, between 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce. Add to that figure the number of non-marriage relationships that result in children (about 1.6 million children are born out of wedlock each year), which then deteriorate and end up in front of a judge, and you have a scary percentage of the population dealing with family breakup in a legal setting. And it is NOT a pleasant experience.
Less well known are the areas of law that can build and strengthen families, such as adoption, guardianship, and personal injury or wrongful death. While these areas present their own challenges, they are often uplifting and rewarding.
Adoption literally builds families. It creates a legal parent-child relationship where there wasn’t one. Consider a step-father adopting his step-daughter, whom he has provided for, protected, and raised since she was two years old. Making that relationship “legal” can have a profoundly positive effect on a child who never bonded with her absent, disinterested, or abusive biological father. With the rap of the gavel, this child is bound to a father who loves and cares for her, and her feelings of guilt or loss associated with her biological father are already lessened. This family is now stronger and tighter as a result of the legal process.
Guardianship is another area of the law that has great potential to build and strengthen families. Consider an aging grandmother suffering from dementia who can no longer make sound decisions about her finances or health. Furthermore, this grandmother never got around to formulating her estate plan or executing a power of attorney for health care. Wyoming law provides for a process whereby a family member can be given authority to make financial and health-related decisions on behalf of grandma. Children, grandchildren, siblings, or any other concerned individual can step up to the plate to help grandma continue to live her life. Grandma and the family are strengthened as a result of this process.
PERSONAL INJURY OR WRONGFUL DEATH
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death law seek to recover compensation for individuals who have been injured, or family members who have lost a loved one, because of the negligence of someone else. Strengthening the family may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about personal injury law and the personal injury lawyer. But consider the head of the household who runs the family business and provides for his family. He is seriously injured by a drunk driver and can’t work for several months, jeopardizing the welfare of his family. Or consider the pensioner who dies during a routine medical procedure and leaves a spouse behind with now half the income she needs to pay the mortgage.
While the injury may be permanent and nothing can bring back a lost loved one, the compensation that individuals or family members may receive in a personal injury or wrongful death action can help individuals and families get on their feet.
CALL AN ADOPTION, GUARDIANSHIP, OR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
If you’re in Wyoming or Colorado and are in a situation like any of those described above, give us a call. We’d love to help build and strengthen your family.