Family Law Explained

Family law is a wide-ranging and complex area of law that deals with family-related issues such as marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony and parental responsibility. Family law statutes cover:

• Children’s rights to proper parenting;

• Parental responsibilities towards children;

• Marriage, the annulment of marriages and divorce;

• The property rights of husbands and wives;

• The property rights of people in domestic relationships;

• The property rights of the creditors of a person in a relationship;

• The personal rights of other people, that may be affected by decisions on the property rights of people in relationships;

• The obligations of parents to financially support their children and their (former) partners;

• The responsibilities that can be given to extended relatives, etc of children.


If you require assistance with any issue relating to family law, seek the services of a family law law firm. Family law in the United States is generally regulated by state law. However there are federal laws that affect certain areas of family law. These are:

• 25 U.S. Code, Chapter 21 – Indian Child Welfare Act

• 28 U.S. Code, Section 1738A – Full Faith & Credit Given to Child Custody Determinations

• 42 U.S. Code, Section 620 – Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

• 42 U.S. Code, Section 11601 – International Child Abduction Remedies Act

• 42 U.S. Code, Section 1983 – Civil Rights of Children

• 42 U.S. Code, Chapter 132 – Victims of Child Abuse

• 42 U.S. Code, Chapter 6 – The Children’s Bureau

• 42 U.S. Code, Chapter 67 – Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment & Adoption Reform Act

• 42 U.S. Code, Chapter 7 – Social Security Act

• 42 U.S. Code, Section 620 – Adoption Assistance & Child Welfare Act of 1980


To formally terminate your marriage, you must obtain a divorce. Divorce procedures in the United States are regulated by state law. Generally you must meet certain residency requirements to be eligible to file a divorce petition. The three forms of divorce are:

• Absolute Divorce – a court ordered divorce decree which terminates a marriage on the grounds of marital misconduct or other grounds under state law. Once an absolute divorce is obtained, the spouses legally become single again.

• Limited Divorce – also known as a separation decree. Several state laws authorize limited divorces. In a limited divorce, the parties do not cohabit together but the marriage is not terminated and martial status of the parties continue to remain married.

• No Fault Divorce – No fault divorce does not require proof of fault. The parties can petition for a divorce on the ground that the marriage is no longer workable.


Following a divorce, the court must divide the property between the spouses. One spouse can be ordered to pay alimony to the other. There are three types of alimony:

• Permanent alimony – the support payment continues till the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.

• Temporary alimony – the payments are spread over a short period. The payments are intended to enable the receiving spouse to stand alone once again.

• Rehabilitative alimony – the spouse with lesser employability or earning capacity is given rehabilitative alimony to be able to adjust to a new post-marital life.

If the spouses have children from the marriage, the court may order one spouse to pay child support to the spouse having custody of the children.

Jan Smith writes for attorney video directory and find a lawyer resource,, where you can find Family lawyers and view attorney videos.
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