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The area of family law is composed of the legal relationships between family members. These relationships can include those of parents, children, spouses, domestic partners, and guardians. Issues involving family law can include: marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, reproductive rights, paternity, and domestic violence.

Family law encompasses the rules, regulations, and court procedures that involve the family unit. As such, it is not uncommon for cases that are heard in family court to be very personal and emotional. Family law attorneys help their clients file for divorce or separation, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony. Experienced lawyers also assist their clients in establishing paternity, obtaining domestic violence restraining orders, property division, debt allocation, and parenting plans.


Adoption can be an emotional and legally complex process. Every situation varies from the next, as do the laws of each state. Once a party has decided to adopt, a home study process is required in all states. A home study includes a series of interviews and home visits that are intended to evaluate the potential adoptive family or parent, and to help educate and prepare them for the upcoming adoption. Once the parent or family is cleared for adoption, the next step is to find a child waiting for adoption, or a birth mother who is willing to go through the adoption process.

All adoptions must go through and be approved by the court in order to be legal and final. If you are considering adoption, look through our database to find a family law attorney in your jurisdiction who can assist you with every step of the adoption process.

Child Custody and Visitation

"Child custody" and "visitation" are terms frequently associated with separation and divorce cases. Child custody cases can be contentious, especially in situations involving less-than friendly divorce or separation between parents. Either parent may be awarded custody, or it can be shared between them. A visitation schedule can also be arranged, and usually, the court will approve the arrangement if the parents agree upon it prior to the hearing.

If the parents cannot come to an agreement on child custody and visitation, the judge will make a decision on their case. The court will always use the best interest of the child standard in consideration of custody cases, and will put the needs of the child ahead of those of his or her parents.

It is especially important for parents involved in custody issues to consult an experienced family law attorney for assistance in obtaining a reasonable, and mutually-agreeable parenting plan for their child.

Child Support

Child support is the financial support that is provided by a parent who does not have full custody of his or her child. The noncustodial parent can enter into a child support agreement voluntarily, by court order, or by an administrative agency. It is important to remember, especially in contentious divorce or separation cases, that child support is exactly what the term implies, it is for the support and care of the child. It is not for the custodial parent, rather, it is for the upbringing of the child in the middle of divorced or separated parents.


Guardianship generally refers to the role of an individual who makes decisions for a child or for another individual who is incapacitated and can’t make decisions for himself or herself, also known as a ward. The court generally prefers to appoint a guardian who has ties to the minor or ward, and because the role of a guardian comes with great responsibility, the decision is not taken lightly.

If you are interested in becoming a guardian, you should consult one of LegalMatch's family law lawyers for guidance on how to begin the process of guardianship with the court.


Establishing paternity is the legal process that is involved in determining the biological father of a child. In cases that involve married parents, paternity is usually determined by the father’s name appearing on the child’s birth certificate. In cases where a baby is born to a single mother, it often requires a court order to establish paternity.

Unwed fathers can sign a voluntary declaration that establishes paternity, and in turn, this acknowledgment allows the mother to seek child support and also may grant him parental rights. If you are wanting to establish or challenge paternity, contact an experienced paternity lawyer for assistance.


An alternative to divorce, a legal separation does not end the marriage. However, similar to a divorce, it is possible to request the court to divide assets and debts, resolve custody issues, child support, and alimony issues. Legal separation provides distance between the couple while leaving the marriage in place. Though separation may be a stepping stone to divorce, it does not necessarily have to end in divorce.

If you and your spouse are considering a legal separation, talk to a family law attorney for guidance. In some states, legal separation is a requirement prior to seeking a divorce, and an experienced lawyer can assist you in obtaining the right resolution for your situation.


Divorce is the official legal ending of a marriage. The laws of each state regarding the requirements of ending a marriage vary, but all require a judicial decree to dissolve the marriage. Some divorce cases are fairly simple, whereas others that involve children and assets, can be quite complicated.

Attorneys who specialize in divorce cases can navigate the legal process of obtaining a reasonable agreement for their clients, and LegalMatch can assist you with finding the right attorney for your needs.

Alimony or Spousal Support

Alimony or spousal support is the financial assistance awarded to the recipient spouse for purposes of allowing the spouse to maintain his or her standard of living prior to the divorce. Spousal support may be either temporary or permanent, and will vary on a case by case basis.

It is important for both spouses to seek the advice of counsel when alimony is at issue, and LegalMatch has a number of well-qualified attorneys in your jurisdiction who can assist you with all matters pertaining to your divorce.

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