Find the right lawyer now

What Is Family Law?

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What Is Family Law?

Family law encompasses a broad range of legal topics involving marriage and children. Common family law subjects include divorce or annulment, child custody and visitation rights, child support payments, and spousal support/alimony. Family law specifically deals with children in regards to adoption, guardianship, state child protection, and domestic violence.

What's the difference between Divorce and Annulment?

Both divorce and annulment are court procedures that dissolve a marriage. However, while a divorce simply ends the marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened.

Read more about it here: Annulment Compared with Divorce

How Are Child Custody and Visitation Established? 

Child custody issues often arise when a couple goes through a divorce. If the couple can come to an agreement on child custody and visitation on their own, the court will usually honor this agreement. However, if the couple cannot reach an agreement, the court will issue a child custody plan based upon "the best interests of the child” legal standard. The court will use several factors (e.g. parent’s ability to provide, health of the parents, preference of the child, etc.) to determine what child placement situation is best for the child.

What Is Child Support?

"Child support" is a series of court ordered payments by a noncustodial parent to the individual with primary custody of the child. Child support is intended to provide for the child’s basic necessities and usually covers:

  • Food, shelter, and clothing
  • Health and medical care
  • Educational expenditures

Read more about it here: What is Child Support

What Is Spousal Support/Alimony?

Spousal support (also known as alimony) represents regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation or after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to recognize the recipient spouse's contribution to the marriage and to assist that spouse to achieve financial independence after the marriage ends. The amount of spousal support assigned will depend on the specific state but generally is greater the longer the duration of the marriage.

What Is Family Law Mediation?

Family law mediation, or family mediation, is a method used to resolve family disputes. In family mediation, a neutral, third party mediator helps the two parties smooth out their differences and reach agreements on various points of contention. While family mediation can save the parties time and costs associated with trial, the decisions reached may not be legally binding, as the process is somewhat informal.

It is common for a judge to encourage parents/couples to seek mediation instead of going straight into litigation. Due the lower cost, saving time, and less stress on any children involved, it is always a good idea to consider family mediation as a first step.

Read more about it here: Family Mediation

Do I Need a Family Attorney?

Family law issues can be some of the most contentious legal disputes. In addition, the Court process and legal provisions regarding any family law matter can often be very confusing. Consulting an experienced family law lawyer can help you understand your rights and to protect your interests.

Photo of page author John Kirby

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-10-2017 08:23 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.