Family law includes all legal matters related to the formation of family relationships (e.g., marriage, adoption) and their dissolution (e.g., divorce). Most law relating to family matters is governed by the states. This means that state laws will differ on the legalities of marriage, divorce, adoption, alimony and child custody.
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Divorce law is regulated by states and raises issues such as property division, alimony, and child custody, support and visitation rights.
The parents of a child born within a marriage are joint guardians of that child and have equal rights to the child. If divorced parents cannot make a decision about child custody, courts will render a judgment based on the child’s best interests.
Child support is a court-ordered payment of support from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
A non-custodial parent typically gets reasonable , court-ordered visitation rights to his or her child. Similarly to child custody, a court will render a child visitation order if the parents cannot agree on a visitation plan.
Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is a court order forcing one spouse to monetarily support the other after a divorce. The availability of alimony varies from state to state.
Collaborative law involves situations when parties decide to resolve a legal matter outside of a courtroom. What makes collaborative law unique is its use of communication coaches and financial neutrals to help settle legal conflicts.
Domestic violence is actual or threatened emotional or physical abuse by one member of a family against another. Some state laws also include ex-spouses and unmarried people who cohabitate.
Marriage, broadly defined, is the legal union of two people. Requirements for a valid marriage differ from state to state.
An adoption creates a parent–child relationship between persons not related by blood. Once a child is put up for adoption, the parental responsibilities of the biological parents are terminated.
State laws govern the ability of a minor to become legally free from parental dependence before he or she reaches the age of majority.
When it comes to family law issues, fathers have the same rights as mothers.
Over the years, a number of court rulings have altered abortion laws and privacy rights throughout the states.
Last update: Oct. 29, 2008