is an area of the law
that deals with family-related
issues and domestic relations
including, but not limited to:
- the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;
- issues arising during marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction
- the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders (in the United States, child custody and visitation, child support awards).
This list is by no means dispositive of the potential issues that come through the family court system. In many jurisdictions in the United States, the family courts see the most crowded dockets. Litigants representative of all social and economic classes are parties within the system.
For the Conflict of Laws elements dealing with transnational and interstate issues, see marriage (conflict), divorce (conflict) and nullity (conflict).
Criticism of the Adversarial System in Family Law
Members over the
fathers' rights movement criticize the win or lose adversarial system currently used in most Western countries to determine divorce and child custody issues, and define "winning custody" not as the right to parent one's children, but as the power to prevent someone else from parenting his children with the help of the government.