Understanding Family Law – Child Custody, Child Support, and Alimony

The nucleus of family law is marriage. This is the reason why family law is also referred to as matrimonial law or law of domestic relations. However family law does not only cover the responsibilities and rights of individuals who are married, but it also includes matters whenever a marriage ends.

Family Law and Children

When a couple undergoes legal separation or divorce, it is always a painful process, not only for the couple but most especially to children. Although the court is not the proper avenue to seek any emotional or psychological help, what family law can provide is the establishment of some level of order so the transition from being a married couple into once again single individuals will not be chaotic and violent. With this, the children of divorcing couples can depend on the consolation that their future and welfare are also taken into consideration.

Child Custody

Child custody is an aspect of family law pertaining to the right of a parent to become child’s legal guardian. As a result, the parent awarded with child custody will have the right to take care of the child and to make major decisions for the child. There are three types of child custody:

Sole custody- In this arrangement, one parent becomes a custodian while the other becomes a non-custodian. For the latter, he or she does not have the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf; however, the non-custodial parent is normally still given visitation rights.
Joint custody- Both parents share the responsibilities in child rearing.
In the best interest of the child- In the event that both parents fail to agree regarding child custody, the court will make the decision for them. In this setting, the court will consider the child’s preference and a parent’s capacity to establish a safe and stable growing environment.
Child Support and Alimony

Although child support and alimony are both concerned with financial obligations, these two areas of family law are different. Child support is the financial responsibility of an individual to his or her child. The guidelines which govern the amount of money to be periodically given and which parent will carry the financial responsibility are different from state to state.

On the other hand, alimony refers to payments given by a person to his or her former spouse. Alimony is a controversial section of family law since some law experts contest its theoretical basis. When alimony is tackled during a divorce proceeding, it may result in the extension of the divorce process as the couple is often pitted against each other as who deserves to pay or receive alimony.

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