It seems obvious that the definition of family law is the area of legal practice regarding familial matters and domestic relations. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a broad area of the law. While the most commonly known proceedings are related to divorce, there is a whole host of other issues that fall under the category of family law.
State Court Systems
Additionally, family law can be confusing and intricate. The state court system handles issues of family law, and as such, each state has different policies and procedures. Thus, if you’ve experienced family law proceedings in one state, experience in another State could be much different. The details of the case matter too, as different scenarios trigger different effects of certain laws and policies related to families. Family law is an area where finding an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer in your state is essential.
Family Law and Federal Courts
It would be a mistake to insinuate that federal courts never play a role in family law. The federal system’s role is much broader and higher level, dealing mainly with the interpretation of the constitution and providing rulings that affect how the law functions in the U.S. As a result, federal law does cross paths with family law on some occasions. A recent example would be that of the Supreme Court ruling on a case about same-sex marriage. The ruling had implications for family law across the country. However, landmark decisions of this nature are irregular parts of family law practice.
As we’ve already mentioned, divorce is the most common aspect of family law. The end of a marriage or romantic partnership brings about the need to legally cut ties, and the courts and family lawyers help each spouse navigate that process. As it can be painful and confusing, a good family lawyer is essential in the process.
Child Custody and Child Support
Along with divorce often comes child custody and support. In cases when spouses cannot agree on custody terms or financial arrangements, the courts will hear arguments from both spouses and make a ruling regarding custody and support.
Alimony and Marital Property
Financial arrangements are necessary, even when children are not involved in a divorce or separation. Alimony payments are provisions made from one spouse to another after a divorce or separation. It is a court appointed figure. Additionally, the dividing other, non-monetary assets during separation or divorce is an issue covered by family law.
Other Issues Regarding Children
There is a whole host of family practice matters regarding children and the law. Paternity, Adoption, foster care, surrogacy, abuse, neglect, abduction, and even issues regarding juvenile adjudication fall under the purview of family law in one way or another. While some of these examples will bridge over into other areas of law, family lawyers will be present and active in each of these situations.
As you can see, family law is vast. While divorce is the most common form, there are dozens of other areas of family law as well. Governed primarily by state court systems, this area of law is unique to where you live. It is important to find the right lawyer for who is knowledgeable about your needs and the statutes of your State of residence to ensure you get the services you need.