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Family law is a practice area concerned with legal issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, divorce, and child custody. Attorneys practicing family law typically handle divorce, child custody, child support, and other related legal matters. Some family law attorneys specialize in adoption, paternity, emancipation, or other matters usually not related to divorce. States have the right to determine “reasonable formal requirements” for marriage, including age and legal capacity, and the majority of states do not permit same-sex couples to marry (but this is a rapidly changing area of law). Likewise, state laws govern the various rules and procedures for divorce and other family law matters.
Family law (also called matrimonial law) is an area of the law that deals with family matters and domestic relations, including: marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; adoption and surrogacy. child abuse and child abduction.
A “separation” is when a couple decides to live apart from each other because the relationship has broken down. The couple may be married, or they may be unmarried but living together like a married couple in a common-law relationship.
A “divorce” is when a court officially ends a marriage. Only legally married couples can divorce. In a legal separation, the parties are still married, versus a divorce where the marriage is ended. A legal separation is a court order that mandates the rights and duties of a couple while they are still married, but living apart. In a divorce, the spouses are no longer married. Legal separations are not too common, but can be helpful to a situation where the spouses work through any personal or financial issues affecting the marriage.
The legal right to take care of a child (such as a child whose parents are divorced).
Child support is payment to help raise young children. The custodial parent who is set to spend more time with the kids generally receives child support because they will spend more money on childcare. These payments typically end when the children reach a certain age, usually 18 or 21. Unlike alimony, there is no tax deduction for child support. The person receiving child support also does not need to pay income tax for receiving this money.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, consists of payments that one spouse makes to the other person after their divorce is final to maintain the same standard of living after the divorce. A divorce agreement usually involves alimony when one person makes more than the other; the higher earning spouse pays out alimony. The person paying alimony is typically able to claim the alimony as a tax deduction, while the person receiving alimony needs to report the payments as income.