Family law is the area of the law where family and domestic relations matters are resolved.
Child custody and visitation
Characterization of property is a subcategory of property division. It revolves around terms such as separate and community property, but also gifts, quasi-community property and transmutation of property.
Family law also covers what are called “parentage” cases – situations where the parents were never married, but they have disagreements about the upbringing of their children. Here the same principles of custody, visitation and child support need be adjudicated by the Courts.
Disputes often do not end with the divorce, but continue for years thereafter, especially in situations where minor children are involved. That is so because issues of enforcement or modification of support and visitation orders continue to arise until the minor child becomes an adult or is emancipated. Similarly, sometimes a parent wants to relocate to another town, or state, or even country. These cases are referred to as “move-aways.”
Family law oftentimes has come to the rescue in non-adversarial situations. For example, many choose to discuss their future marriage, set rules in advance, anticipate problems, and reduce future conflicts by entering into premarital agreements.
What is a family?
As society’s definition of family has changed over the years, so have its norms and its laws. With modern advances in medicine and marriage equality new subareas of family law continue to emerge. As the world becomes more connected, and boundaries are removed, some families have residences in several countries. Many individuals and their children boast of dual or multiple citizenship. International child abduction requires knowledge of foreign laws and procedure and often the involvement of foreign co-counsel, therefore working with an international team can be an advantage.
Dispute resolution methods
Dispute Resolution methods such as negotiation and mediation are often used in the practice of family law and must be an integral tool of each family law attorney’s toolbox. Since most cases resolve through some sort of a settlement agreement rather than a trial and a court judgment, it is very important to have an experienced counsel on your side who can pinpoint the issues which may become a concern in the future and try to address these preventatively in order to avoid future frustration and attempts at relitigating.
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Finally, family law is very closely related to several other law practice areas. Restraining order petitions are often filed between former spouses, in-laws, relatives, and partners. While the most common type is Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) Petitions, there are also Civil Harassment and Elder Abuse Restraining Orders. Another related practice area is criminal law. A third is debt relief (as separation increases the couple’s bills, one or sometimes even both spouses need to file bankruptcy). Sometimes evictions laws come into play as one spouse or partner tries to evict another spouse or partner from the family residence. Yet other times events which occur in the family or relationship may also have immigration consequences