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What is Family Law?

Family law involves marriage, adoption, divorce, paternity, child support custody, death,and estate planning. Laws on family vary from state to state. Moststates define marriage as a union between a man and a woman tobecome husband and wife. The traditional way to marry is to get a marriagelicense from a state-authorized official, then participate in a formalcivil or religious wedding ceremony.

The grounds for divorce depend on the state, and may be based on no-faultor fault. A no-fault divorce is available in some form in all 50 states.  However, many states also have fault-based grounds as an additional option. A no-faultdivorce is one in which both parties want the divorce. Typical bases for no-faultdivorce are "irreconcilable differences," "irretrievable breakdown" or"incompatibility." Another common basis for no-fault divorce is that theparties have been separated for particular period of time with the intentthat the separation be permanent.

If the parents cannot agree on child custody arrangements for their children, courts decidecustody based on "the best interests of the child." Determining the child’sbest interests involves many factors, no one of which is the most importantfactor.  Each state has adopted their own child support guidelines.

Adoption is the process by which a parent-child relationshipis created by law between individuals not biologically parent and child. In mostcases, adopted children may inherit on an equal basis with biological childrenunder state laws of distribution upon death of a parent.


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