Family law is the area of law that deals with all legal and law related things pertaining to family matters, family structures and domestic relations. People who need help with a family law matter often turn to family law attorneys to help them with their needs. Marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, divorces, annulment, property settlements, child support, alimony, child custody, child visitation, adoption, surrogacy, child protective proceedings, juvenile law, and paternity issues, are all common things that are dealt with through family law. Many jurisdictions have different areas of family law and may call an area of law something different than another jurisdiction would for the same law.

Marriages, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships 

Marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships involve two people entering into a legally recognized spousal and/or domestic relationship. When one of these legally recognized family relationships is legally terminated, it is often done through divorce or annulment. Some of the typical things that need to get decided on by a judge are property  settlements, asset settlement, debt settlement, alimony, child custody, child visitation, child support and alimony.


Adopting a child, and in some cases, an adult, needs to be recognized and approved of by the courts to make it legal. While many adoptions go through public or private agencies or through private adoptions involving lawyers, where the details are arranged by the parties involved in the adoption, the adoption ultimately has to be approved by a judge for it to be legal.


When a woman agrees to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another person or people that will become the parent/s, the woman is called a surrogate. Sometimes the surrogate is impregnated with the sperm and/or egg of the people who are going to be the parents, or just the sperm of one of the parents, or a sperm donor that is not going to be one of the parents of the child. Surrogacy is the law and process of giving birth as a surrogate mother. 

Child Protective Proceedings  

Federal and state laws protect children from neglect, abuse and other things that children should not have to suffer from. When agencies that protect children are notified of these things, they are typically investigated and depending on the findings, what is best for the child is decided on by a judge.

Juvenile Law 

Juvenile law deals with legal matters relating to minors including status offenses, delinquency,  juvenile adjudication and emancipation. According to Federal Sentencing Guidelines, status offenses are crimes that cannot be committed by an adult. Juvenile delinquency is the act of a minor that participates in unlawful behavior.  Juvenile adjudication can refer to a child that is under a court’s jurisdiction, usually as the result of having behaved in delinquent behavior and is  child that does not have a legal guardian that can be entrusted with being responsible for the delinquent child. Emancipation is when a child petitions to be freed from their parents’ or guardians’ control. In turn, the parents or guardians are freed of all responsibility toward the child. 


Legal paternity proceedings are used to establish and disestablish paternity. A mother or a father can ask the courts to order the administration of paternity testing to determine whether a particular male is a child’s biological father. While the above mentioned areas of family law are common ones that people in families find themselves might involved in, there are many other areas not mentioned here that families may find themselves involved in and in need of legal help with. Be informed of legal information and news with Top Lawyer Services.