Family law is an umbrella term that constitutes the legal proceedings that concern the immediate family, typically the parents/guardians and the children. It is divided into three main categories: matters of marriage and marriage dissolution, adoption and other matters. Family law deals with civil cases of many types, and they are all thoroughly explained below.
Marriage and Marriage Dissolution
Family lawyers can specialize in marriage and marriage dissolutions. Before marrying, a couple may consider a prenuptial agreement. In a prenuptial agreement, each person relinquishes his or her right to each other’s property in the case of a divorce or death of a spouse. A marriage dissolution is a legal end to a marriage. This can happen through divorce, annulment or separation. Unlike divorce or an annulment, a separation is a legal agreement in which the spouses are not together but are still legally married. During and even after the process of marriage dissolution, a spouse can receive alimony, or an allowance, for support. During a divorce, an agreement can be made to distribute marital property with the help of lawyers. Marital property could include cars, a house or a pet; as long as it was acquired during the marriage, it is available for claim by either spouse during a divorce.
Familial Relationships between Adult & Minor
There are many matters concerning the family ties between a child and an adult. This includes adoption & foster care, paternity court, child custody & support, guardianship and the termination of parental rights. In the case of adoption or foster care, attorneys can guide the legal proceedings due to the multitudes of adoption types, state laws, where the child in question is from and other factors that can cause the adoption process to be more complex.
Paternity courts are very common practices that family law attorneys handle. The results could affect child custody terms. If the paternity results are positive, meaning the father in question is the biological father, then nothing will change. If the paternity results are negative, the man who was thought to be the father would most likely lose legal custody of the child.
Divorce also affects child custody and support. There are multiple factors that determine the agreement of child custody, each case is different. In some cases, depending on the incomes of the spouses, one may owe the other child support, which is similar to alimony.
When the biological parents are deemed unfit, relatives of the child or other persons over the age of 21, depending on the state’s laws, could seek guardianship of the child, leading to the biological parent’s termination of parental rights.
Other Instances Under Family Law
Other situations that may call for legal consultation or involvement are emancipation of a minor, the consent of underaged marriage, juvenile cases, name changes and domestic violence protection.