The individual family units serve as the foundation for societal development. The family law in United States governs the roles and responsibilities of spouses, children, grand parents and other close relatives, defining the legal rights of each party involved in the association. The laws implemented in the 50 states of America are more or less similar, creating uniformity of legal obligations across the country.
The family laws were created keeping in mind the changing household structures, which pose significant physical, emotional, and material stress on different characters involved in the family unit. In case of unfavorable circumstances, the family laws preserve the integrity of each individual, assigning rights and responsibilities to each participant in order to counter the negative influence of events. These laws are put in place to protect mental health and societal veracity of all individuals.
There have been numerous cases in the past where the termination of familial structure resulted in disastrous outcomes for the involved parties (spouses, children and grandparents). These cases have led to the formation of different family laws over time so that the negative influence of family dissolution can be minimized. Once the legal counsel gets involved with family decisions, the members will need to follow the court decisions until a certain time period, as defined by the law.
Family law is an area of law that concerns family issues and domestic relationships, which include:
- civil unions,
- same-sex marriage;
- child custody;
- child abuse;
- child abduction
- divorce and annulment;
- property settlements;
- Green Card and deportation issues;
- alimony and palimony; visitation right for the non custodial parent;
- juvenile adjudication (criminal cases);
- international family law matters.
This list is not inclusive, and varies from State to State. In most family law courts of the United States, judges are overloaded with matters, and there are delays in case processing due to backlogs.
At every stage, laws come into effect in order to restrict damage. Here’s how each of these categories define the integrity of a family unit.
From premarital agreements to same-sex marriage qualification, there is a protocol to preserve the rights of both parties involved as well as of the community as a whole. The premarital agreements serve as a guiding light to define the rights of both parties, assessed through mutual agreement.
In an event where couples do not wish to maintain their married status, they will need to file for divorce in line with the family laws pertaining to it. This does not only include property valuation and distribution, it also addresses the upkeep and maintenance of child/children that may be involved. The idea is to protect the welfare of the wards without compelling the adults to restrict their individual choices.
Child Custody and Support
In a case where the custody of a child is left to question, these laws will ensure that he or she is able to receive adequate care and upbringing to mature into a healthy individual. This is not only restricted to cases where the parents are filing for divorce, it also includes accidental death of guardians, birth of a child to unmarried parents, visitation and parenting plans, and adoptions.
Given the high rates of divorce these days, the family laws are not only essential to maintain the societal structure but also to nourish the upcoming generations for betterment and growth.
The State of New York, along with other States, contemplates fault divorces. In such cases, one party blames the other of being at fault and having caused a breakdown of the marriage. The other spouse can contest the allegations, but contested divorces require a litigant to be represented by a family law expert, such a litigation attorney.
Generally, the spouses use the fault grounds to get the outcome of the litigation that they wish. In most cases, a spouse insists to get a favorable judgment and to convince the judge that the other spouse did something wrong, in order to receive a temporary or permanent alimony award. A family law attorney can guide you through the divorce process and can reach a settlement with your former spouse on complicated matters, including settlement agreements, child custody and visitation rights.
In New York, divorce by fault may be granted for:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment (Domestic Relations Law §170.1)
- Abandonment for a continuous period of one year or more (DRL §170.2)
- Imprisonment for more than three years subsequent to the marriage (DRL §170.3)
- Adultery (DRL §170.4)
Cruel and inhuman treatment can only be found when a spouse’s behavior causes the other spouse to abandon the marital home. Accuses of cruel and inhumane treatment include domestic violence and extreme mental cruelty.
Non-citizen spouses and minor children that are victims of domestic abuse are afforded legal protection by State and Federal laws. An immigration lawyer can assist in the filing of an abused spouse self-sponsored Visa, and removal of conditions on permanent residency.