What is Family Law?
Family law refers to an extensive arm of law that looks into matters relating to family and domestic relations. Family law focuses on issues relating to marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions, surrogacy, adoption, child abduction and abuse, relationship termination and ancillary matters such as divorce, property settlements, annulment, child custody and support, visitation, alimony and alimony awards. Family law also deals with issues relating to paternity testing and fraud as well as juvenile adjudication. For a layman person, family law may sound quite abstract while for an average lawyer, the term is encompassing. While other forms of law like real estate and criminal law are widely understood in practice, family law is more often confused perhaps due to its expansive definition. However, the most common and well recognized aspect of family law is undeniably divorce litigation. In its very basic definition, divorce litigation has to do with legal and formal termination of marital relationships. This raises issues such as child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. Other post-judgment matters arise after the formal divorce including changes that lead to modification of child support and alimony obligations, custodial relationships, payment of expenses and adherence to divorce terms. Post judgment processes can be more costly and longer than the divorce itself.
Other areas of Family Law
Besides divorce litigation, there are various areas on family law that have similar principles as well as case law as those in divorce though they do not arise from marital relationships. In such area, family areas looks into circumstances relating to parents who are not married and disputes they may have with respect to their children. It also looks into issues around separation of unmarried cohabitants, collapse of same sex unions and visitation of grandparents. Competent family law lawyers assist couples prepare prenuptial, mid-marriage and cohabitation agreements. When it comes to custodial issues, family law covers paternity disputes, procedures for adoption and parental right termination. Though often perceived as criminal matters, attorneys in family law also handle matters relating to domestic violence that lead to restraining orders.