Guide to Parental Rights & Obligations
What is Family Law?
Family law consists of a body of statutes and case precedents that govern the legal responsibilities between individuals who share a domestic connection. These cases usually involve parties who are related by blood or marriage, but family law can affect those in more distant or casual relationships as well. Due to the emotionally-charged nature of most family law cases, litigants are strongly advised to retain legal counsel.
The vast majority of family law proceedings come about as a result of the termination of a marriage or romantic relationship. Family law attorneys help their clients file for separation or divorce, alimony, and child custody, visitation, and support. Spouses married a short time may seek an annulment, and special rights may exist between same-sex couples. The division of property at the end of a marriage is also a common issue in family law cases.
With respect to property division at the time of divorce, every state has a comprehensive set of laws in place to determine the rights of the parties. However, couples who do not agree with the default rules in their state can “opt-out” by hiring a lawyer to draft a prenuptial agreement. Absent fraud or duress, courts will enforce these premarital agreements upon divorce, and distribute property and financial support accordingly.
Family law also involves the prevention of physical and emotional abuse. The potential for domestic abuse is not limited to relationships between current or former spouses and their children. Judges will not hesitate to assert jurisdiction to protect an elderly family member, someone in a dating relationship, or even a roommate. When allegations of abuse are made, the court will typically issue a restraining order to prevent further contact.
In a contested family law case, most people understand that hiring a skilled attorney will provide an advantage. An attorney can find assets or income the other party is trying to hide, present arguments regarding child support and visitation, and even take the case to trial if settlement talks fail. Attorney representation is just as crucial in uncontested cases, however. Without it, a party is vulnerable and can unknowingly waive important legal rights.
Parental Rights & Obligations
The issue of child custody is the most common dispute in family court. As should be expected, parents are extremely concerned with the safety, education, and overall wellbeing of their children. Custody decisions become even more difficult following a divorce or breakup, as parents tend to be distrustful of each other at these times. Regardless of the state of affairs between the parents, judges will always decide custody based on “the best interests of the child.”
In an effort to do what is best for the child, the court can assign legal and physical custody to one parent, or these rights can be shared. A typical schedule would allow the child to spend weekends, summers, and alternating holidays with the non-custodial parent, with both parents having an equal say in major decisions affecting the child. When approving a custody schedule, the court will do what it can to avoid unnecessary disruptions to the child’s life.
All parents have a legal duty to provide financial support for their children. The amount of support ordered in a particular case will be calculated according to state statute. Most states publish a child support worksheet that simplifies the task. The calculation will take into account the respective incomes of the parents, the cost of health insurance for the child, support paid for other children by the non-custodial parent, and more.
Custody and support orders are subject to modification. In fact, family law attorneys spend much of their time representing clients in modification proceedings. To alter a visitation schedule or revise the amount of child support, the requesting party must demonstrate that circumstances have changed since the order was entered. Examples of changed circumstances include loss of employment, moving, a parent becoming disabled, etc.
Family law cases can involve a number of other issues. Establishing (or disproving) paternity is a common subject of litigation, although it is becoming less complicated with the ability of courts to order DNA testing. Other issues include the termination of parental rights, adoption, gay and LGBT relations, and grandparent rights. Family law in the 21st century is evolving quickly, making it more important than ever to seek advice from a qualified attorney.
Know your Rights!
Articles About Family Law
- Common Law Marriage and Legal Protection in TexasPersons who are married have certain legal rights and protections that they don't even think about. However, there are other couples who have long-term, committed relationships who have things a bit more difficult. This article will show the issues that should be considered by persons who are involved in a non-ceremonial marriage in Texas, and how to prevent a problem.
- My Loved One's Estate Was Looted By Someone Who Was Supposed To Be Caring For Them – What Can I Do?Recently, I was approached by someone asking me about a situation that occurs all too often. Her grandmother's estate had been bled dry by someone who was supposed to be taking care of her. My friend wanted to know what the legal rights and responsibilities of the parties were in this situation and what could be done about it.
- When Can Kids Fly Alone?It is not uncommon, particularly around the holidays, for children to visit family members in other states. Sometimes this means taking a flight. But, for many families, it is just not financially feasible for a parent to accompany the child on the flight. So, what are the laws and rules regarding when children can fly alone?
- What Do You Do When Your Ex Kidnaps Your Kids?It is a nightmare scenario that occurs all too often: after a breakup or divorce, your ex picks up your kids when they are not supposed to or disappears with them after a visitation. Sometimes this is done to hurt the other parent, sometimes it is done out of a sincere desire to spend time with the child(ren). Whatever the case, the effect is the same: terror, confusion, concern, and often a nagging question about what one should do. So, what do you do when your ex kidnaps your kids?
- California Passes Bill to Help LGBT Senior CitizensCalifornia recently passed legislation that will help LGBT elders to receive respectful care in their twilight years.
- Surrogacy and the LawThere are thousands of people who would love the opportunity to have a child of their own but, for whatever reason, are not able to do so. Many of these parents turn to adoption, but some would still like to have a child that is biologically their own. For these parents, surrogacy can sometimes be an option. But what are the laws related to surrogacy? How does the process work? What does one need to think about when considering using a surrogate?
- Attorney Allegedly Commits Financial Elder Abuse, Steals $3.5 Million From Elderly DoctorA San Francisco attorney allegedly committed financial elder abuse when he defrauded an elderly doctor. The defendant in the case has been disbarred for his actions.
- Uncontested Divorce in GeorgiaDivorce in Georgia is often though of by the public and by attorneys as being either “contested” or “uncontested”. The distinction being whether or not both of the parties have agreed to the dissolution of the marriage. This determines how the divorce proceedings will processed. Where the parties can agree to resolve their differences, the case can be handled on an uncontested basis. The legal proceedings will be simpler and less stressful. Attorney fees will be substantially lower.
- Identifying and Preventing Elder AbuseSenior citizens across the nation are being taken advantage of. Physical elder abuse and financial elder abuse have become commonplace.
- How Do You Report Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect?Child abuse and neglect are ugly realities. Turning a blind eye to the act can doom a child to serious injury, emotional trauma, or even death. Children are the victims least able to stand up for themselves since they depend entirely upon their parents for food, care, and legal status. So what do you do if you suspect child abuse or neglect? How can you report it and protect a child in danger?
- All Family Law Articles
Family Law - US
- ABA - Section of Family Law
American Bar Association Section of Family Law's dedicated lawyers, associates and law students serve as leaders in the field of marital and family law. ABA Section of Family Law offers products and resources for lawyers, students and the public.
- Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
The purpose of Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is to ensure the welfare and well-being of the quality of life of children and families. Their programs are aimed at empowering and equipping individuals, families and communities by finding solutions to difficult situations, through assistance, support and caring.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Welfare Information Gateway contributes to protecting children by providing access to, online and offline, resources. The information covers topics related to the welfare of children.
- Family Law
Here legal aspects regarding Family Law are addressed. The material and topics include, but are not limited to: living together, marriage, divorce, adoption, child support and more.
- Family Law - State Statutes
Family Law legislation differs from State to State. Here the Statues, regarding Family Law across the country.
- Family Law - Wikipedia
Family Law is part of the law that deals with relations within the family and issues related thereto. Examples of family law are: the nature and issues arising from a marriage; civil unions and domestic partnerships; mental and physical abuse of the spouse and/or children; legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy and abduction of children; annulment, divorce, alimony and settlements; and custody, visitation and support pertaining to the child.
- Family Law Organization - Family Law Code by State
Family Law Organization offers resources to attorneys and parents. These resources include the Family Law Code, attorney database and discussion links.
- Uniting American Families Act
The Uniting American Families Act (formerly the Permanent Partners Immigration Act) amends the definition of “spouse” under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. This remedy allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.
- US Department of Health and Human Services - Families
This Department provides essential human services to protect the health of the people. The topics contain information on safety, health insurance and how to improve your own health and the health of your family.