Federal and state governments have established laws and regulations that govern the process of adults assuming the legal rights and responsibilities to children that were not born to them. These laws also help ensure the safety and well-being of the children as they transition to the care and control of people who are not their biological parents.

Child Custody

Child custody laws vary from state to state. Therefore, it is important to understand what each state considers when determining the physical and legal custody of a child.

Child Support

Child support is the amount of money that the court orders a parent or both parents to pay in order to assist in the financial maintenance and support of the child and the child’s living expenses.

Child Visitation

Child visitation laws govern the rights of non-custodial parents to spend time with their child. These laws also provide rights for other people who are important to the child, such as grandparents and other family members, to visit the child.

Education and Schools

Federal law requires that every child be provided the opportunity to receive a basic education. Every state has its own school system, and there are very distinct laws in each state that concern the management of schools, teachers, and funding for public education.


Guardianship is a court-supervised legal relationship established for the benefit and protection of a child whose parents can no longer support or take care of them. It is important to understand who can be a guardian and what the process in becoming a guardian consists of.


Establishing paternity is an important step toward establishing child custody and the collection of child support. Determining the legal father is can be a difficult and long process, especially because there are different circumstances that depend on different legal rules and procedures.

State Child Protection

State child protection is enacted in circumstances where parents are inspected by the state for allegedly neglecting or abusing their child.


The laws governing surrogates and surrogacy arrangements vary from state to state. They deal with both customary and gestational surrogacy.