Types of Cases Under a Family Law

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The typical case in family law starts with a petition filed in the local court. All parties involved must be notified, and each enlists the help of a lawyer to represent their interests. Negotiated settlement agreements are often the best choice when the parties are on good terms. Read on to learn about these types of cases.


Some marriages begin with the best intentions, but not all marriages work out. In divorce, couples may attempt to settle their differences informally. If the spouses cannot agree, they may need the court to determine who gets what. The legal system is confusing, but it’s not impossible to understand.

The law varies by jurisdiction, but most courts recognize two types of property: marital and separate. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, while the separate property was acquired before. Separate property, on the other hand, is a property that has not changed in value during the marriage. The same applies if the spouses trade or sell property, but the newly acquired property or funds from the sale of property are considered separate.


In separation cases, a family law attorney is involved in establishing minor children’s parentage and visitation schedules. Besides the basic custody and visitation arrangements, a separation case can also include requests to set child support and alimony payments. If you are not married, you can also seek to develop decision-making rights for minor children. These decisions can range from education to medical care to extracurricular activities. You must file papers with the family court to initiate a separation case.

The court will use the same analysis in legal separation and divorce cases. For instance, if one spouse abuses the other, they can file a mensa et thoro separation. In addition, this separation can prevent accusations of abandonment or desertion if the parties cannot communicate effectively during the break. It is also helpful when one partner is consistently absent for long periods.

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Child custody

In determining where the child lives, courts typically try to determine which parent is more likely to meet the child’s needs. They consider a child’s basic needs, emotional needs, and relationship with both parents. In some cases, the court may also look into the mental health of both parents. The following are some of the most critical considerations in child custody cases. 

The first consideration in deciding custody is whether the children are best served by living with both parents. In many cases, the parent with whom the child lives has a higher chance of getting custody than the other parent. However, in some cases, a parent may be awarded custody despite being at fault for the divorce. In such a case, the parent’s responsibility must be rebutted with evidence that the current custody order is not in the child’s best interests.


In family law, paternity cases are brought to establish a man’s paternity. An Order of Filiation gives the father the right to custody and visitation and to pay child support. A father can file a paternity case in the county where the child was born, or the petitioner resides. The child’s mother is also eligible to file a paternity case.

To begin a paternity case, the child’s mother and father must sign a document acknowledging paternity. The form is available from hospitals, the Department of Social Services, and Family Courts. Parents must file a petition to initiate the case within 60 days of signing the form. Once the court has acknowledged paternity, the child will be moved forward with the rest of the court process.


There are many legal processes involved in adopting a child. Ultimately, the court must decide if the person is an acceptable parent for the child. To that end, the court will review investigatory reports on the prospective adoptive parents’ religious and social backgrounds, financial status, and physical and moral fitness. Then, the court will base its decision on the child’s best interests. Therefore, adoptive parents should understand how the process works before pursuing adoption.

To adopt a child, one or both parents must give up their parental rights. To adopt a child without the natural parents’ consent, a child must be at least two years old and live with a former stepparent or managing conservator for at least a year. The burden of proof increases if one or both parents does not consent to the adoption. Depending on the state, fingerprints or other physical evidence may be necessary to establish the adoption’s legitimacy.