The term “family law” instantly makes individuals feel as if the point under discussion is divorce. However, family law comprises much more than that. Family law refers to all matters concerning a family unit and includes matters regarding adoption, paternity, maternity, legitimation, surrogacy, pre and post nuptial agreement, child custody, child support, alimony and divorce. Hence, while your divorce lawyer may be familiar with all aspects of family law, he/she may not necessarily be an expert in all the fields. Listed below are some of the most commonly dealt with aspects of family law and their brief descriptions:
Pre and Post Nuptial agreements
A prenuptial agreement refers to an agreement laid out before marriage that decides who will be responsible for the finances of each spouse during the marriage, and who with the wealth belongs to or in how much capacity in case of a divorce. A postnuptial agreement is an agreement that spouses enter into after they are already married, and that too outlines the ownership of the estate and responsibilities surrounding children and other related obligations.
Divorce is essentially a legal proceeding through which a married couple can dissolve their marriage. There exist two types of divorces: contested divorces and uncontested divorces. A contested divorce refers to a situation in which the couple has not sorted out their differences and might require mediation from a professional mediator. However, if the mediation is not successful, a court or a judge gets to ultimately resolve their conflict. An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, refers to when the couple has sorted out all their issues and while filing for divorce they also file a settlement agreement that states their decisions on all related matters including child custody, visitation rights and child support.
Child custody refers to the legal term for guardianship, and it essentially covers who would get legal and physical custody of a child in case of a couple’s separation. While legal custody refers to which parent gets to make divisions for the child, physical custody refers to which parent may house and care for the child. While one parent can have both custodies, it is not uncommon for the custodies to be divided between the parents. Courts usually think of the child’s best interests in matters of child custody and visitation rights. Courts usually consider aspects regarding the parents’ living conditions, employment, income, physical health and mental health while making a decision.
Child support refers to the periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of their child. Usually, the non-custodial parent is responsible for child support payments and every state usually has a fixed schedule for child support. The amount of child support that the parent is required to pay depends upon the parent’s income and estate.
Alimony refers to when in case of a divorce one spouse may seek spousal support from their ex-spouse. While the laws that determine alimony differ in every state, courts usually consider the length of the marriage, the earning capability of each spouse, their personal health and their monetary and non-monetary contribution in the marriage. Courts may decide on permanent or temporary alimony.
Surrogacy refers to a situation in which a woman carries a child with the ultimate intention to hand over the child to a couple or an individual at birth. Surrogacy is an agreement that individuals enter into with a surrogate, and according to the agreement the surrogate mother willingly gives up the child in her womb upon birth to who she entered the agreement. Surrogacy may be partial or total, and the couple or individual looking to become legal parents must file according to their state court.