Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law
Q: What is the legal definition of marriage?
A: Most states define marriage as a civil contract between two people to become spouses and enjoy the rights and responsibilities of a spousal relationship. The standard way to marry is to get a marriage license from a state-authorized official and participate in a formal civil or religious wedding ceremony.
Q: What are the legal effects of marriage?
A: There are many federal and state laws that benefit married couples. Some examples include the right to file joint income tax returns, create a family limited partnership (FLP) under federal tax laws, create a marital life estate trust, receive survivor benefits, partake of employer-provided health and life insurance benefits, receive a share of your deceased spouse’s estate under intestate succession laws, make medical decisions on the other’s behalf, access sensitive health information about each other, and claim the estate tax marital deduction.
Domestic violence is usually addressed only when it involves an act of physical violence, but many survivors reveal that they suffer as much from verbal and emotional abuse as from physical abuse. If you have been the subject of physical, verbal or emotional abuse in your family and you have questions about the impact of domestic violence on dissolution of marriage, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who can help you sort out the issues.
Family Law – An Overview
“Family law” is the term applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships. Family law defines not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, family law reflects the values society shares regarding how people who are related should treat each other. When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of a family law attorney at Carol A. N. Breit, Attorney at Law in Richmond, VA, can prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome.
Typically, family law attorneys assist people in either building or dissolving family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, alimony/spousal support, paternity, child custody, and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the areas of adoption and assistive reproductive technologies.
There are millions of divorced parents who pay or receive child support. Federal legislation and uniform state laws exist to make enforcement and collection of child support easier across the country. That being said, each state has its own guidelines and formulas for establishing child support, and its own infrastructure for collecting it.
Deciding to end your marriage is one of the most difficult and emotional decisions you will ever make, particularly if you have children. Divorce involves financial matters that must be resolved and legal issues that must be addressed before the process is concluded.
Custody and Visitation
When parents divorce, it is vitally important to learn about the child custody and visitation options that are available and the legal standards that apply. In many cases, divorcing couples can ultimately agree on custody and visitation issues without the need for a court order. When an agreement cannot be reached, though, knowledgeable advice and representation from a family law attorney can make a huge difference.
Marriage is a voluntary, private contract between two adults. While it is a personal and emotional commitment, it is also an official relationship that changes the legal status of both parties. A family law attorney can help you understand the legal technicalities of marriage as well as the rights and responsibilities that come along with it.
Family Law Resource Links
American Bar Association – Section of Family Law
Tables and summaries addressing differences in state laws and requirements for divorce, child support and other important family law issues.
The Legal Information Institute – Family Law Topics
Statutes, case law and articles covering a variety of family law topics provided by Wex, a public-access legal dictionary and encyclopedia sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell University Law School.
Office of Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
Information on services related to locating non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing support orders and collecting support payments.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Formerly the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC), the Child Welfare Information Gateway provides access to information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families.
Children’s Rights Council
A nonprofit devoted to helping kids experience the frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with two parents and extended family that a child would normally have during a marriage.