This blog post attempts to provide a brief overview of the treatise entitled Family Law Litigation Guide with Forms, which is published and updated by LexisNexis. The treatise is available in print at the Charlotte School of Library in the treatise section, within the shelving for “Family Law.” The search terms “family law litigation” in the CSL catalog gets you here with the call number KF 505.F354. To date, the treatise consists of four volumes, inclusive of forty chapters, a Table of Cases, and an Index. The Index is located at the back of the last volume, rather than in each volume. Each volume is updated annually (typically in August or September of each year) with a “Publication Update” provided by LexisNexis.
Each chapter provides an in-depth discussion of the procedural and evidentiary rules for each topic (i.e. discovery, depositions, marital property, spousal support, child support, termination of parental rights, evidence, etc.) with citations to primary authority. Additionally, each chapter contains a “Forms” section, which includes practice checklists, sample discovery, sample motions, and other family law forms. There are multiple chapters for each topic, and each chapter has its own table of contents at the front. For example, discovery is covered over seven chapters (Scope, Discovery Devices, Planning Devices, Interrogatories, and Production of Documents). This makes the treatise a very comprehensive guide to each aspect of family law. This treatise would be particularly useful to an attorney who is new to practicing family law because it provides an overview of each topic, cites to primary authority, and contains forms which are a great starting point.
As a law student, the organization of the Index makes sense; however, it would be difficult for a lay person to navigate. The index is organized using broad topics, such as “Child Support”, “Abandonment”, “Briefs”, “Attorney Client Privilege”, and “Cross Examination”. Some of this terminology is not familiar to lay people. Under each topic, there are several smaller sub-issues arranged alphabetically. If a researcher is successful at navigating the Index, or knows enough about a topic to generate specific legalese search terms, the Index can be very useful; however, I found it just as easy to browse topics by Chapter, since each chapter is so specific and contains its own table of contents.
Overall, this treatise is comprehensive and user-friendly, and the forms are a great supplemental tool. On the negative side, the treatise is expensive, particularly for a solo practitioner or small-size firm. As such, if a lawyer does not have access to this resource through a law library, he or she may have to find a more cost effective, alternate source.
For North Carolina attorneys, the Rosen Law firm, which has offices in Raleigh, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Durham, provides several great resources that are available for free online. The website provides access to resources for two categories: (1) Child Issues (which covers Child Custody and Child Support) and (2) Spousal Issues (which covers Absolute Divorce, Alimony and Support, Domestic Violence, Mediation, and Property Division).
Each topic contains several additional, useful resources, including step-by-step guides, articles, forms, videos, podcasts, relevant statutes, and other tools such as payment calculators. The website also contains a section where any person can post questions to which a lawyer from the firm will respond. This resource can be useful for attorneys and is more user-friendly for lay people. In fact, I have used this source as a lay person, prior to having any knowledge of family law in North Carolina. While the source is user-friendly, it provides a more general overview of major issues, but is not nearly as comprehensive as the LexisNexis treatise discussed above. Additionally, practitioners may find it time consuming to have to weed through questions and other postings by lay people that are case specific, and not general practice questions. Overall, however, it is a great free resource for general information for lawyers and lay people, or a great place to begin a research assignment for a general overview.
~Jessica E. Price, Class of 2013~