Family law covers all types of domestic relations matters, including divorce and property division; child custody and support; alimony; domestic violence; and adoption. Many of these matters can become emotional, contentious, and complicated. Whether you are looking to protect yourself by setting up a prenuptial agreement, escape an abusive relationship, or start a new chapter in your life, learning the basics of family law can give you a solid understanding of this legal area.
People Often Ask
How do I get a divorce?
Each state handles divorce a little differently, but the process everywhere is similar to filing a lawsuit. Some states have required waiting periods or mandatory periods of living apart before you can file. Some states require mediation sessions as well. You will want to check with a local family law attorney first.
How can I get a restraining order?
If your immediate safety is at risk, contact the police as soon as possible. It may be possible to get an emergency order. The next step will involve filing a petition for a restraining order at your local court. There are organizations and family law attorneys who can help you with this step to protect your rights and safety.
What is the process for adopting a child?
There are many different pathways for adopting a child. You can go through the foster care system, work with a private organization, adopt a child from another country, or you may want to adopt a stepchild or grandchild. Each method has its own pros, cons, and costs. An attorney can help you think through the options.
How is child support calculated?
Most states calculate child support using a formula that considers several factors. These include each parent’s income, the parenting time schedule, and the children’s needs regarding food, shelter, clothing, education, health care, etc. A family law attorney can help you understand what could happen.
How can I modify a custody or support order?
To modify a child custody, child support, or spousal support order, you must prove a material change in circumstances since the order went into effect. This can include losing a job or getting a large promotion, suffering from a serious illness, moving out of state, or anything that substantially affects your income.
Can I get spousal support?
Courts are not as likely to order large amounts of spousal support after a divorce as they were in the past. Whether you will be able to claim spousal support will depend on factors like the length of your marriage, your earning capability after the divorce, and the lifestyle you were used to during the marriage.
Featured Family Law Articles
Read more about specific legal issues in Family Law.
What Is Mediation in Family Law?By Christina Majaski
Mediation is a non-adversarial process that allows you, your ex, and a neutral mediator to find solutions on children and assets while saving time and money.3 MINUTES READ
What Happens When a Divorcing Parent Bad-Mouths the Other in Front of Their Children?By Nicole Prebeck, Esq.
Parenting can be difficult even on the best days. But when parents are no longer together, speaking ill of each other in front of the children makes it even harder.5 MINUTES READ
The 'Best Interests' of the Child StandardBy Nicole Prebeck, Esq.
When it comes to child custody, you will hear the phrase “best interest of the child” a lot. But what does this standard actually mean, and how do courts apply it?6 MINUTES READ
Family Law Articles by State
Read about the law in your specific jurisdiction.