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What Is Family Law?

by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

Family law is a body of case precedents and statutes that govern the legal responsibilities of those involved in a domestic relationship. Those that are included are the husband, wife, grandparents, etc., usually anyone that that is a blood relation or one related by marriage. As many cases involving families are emotionally charged it is always a good idea to hire a family law lawyer who can view the issues without an emotional attachment.

The greatest majority of family law cases are the result of the termination of a marriage or other romantic involvement. A family law lawyer helps his or her client file the necessary pleas for divorce or legal separation. Child support, visitation, spousal support, etc. If the marriage has only lasted for a very short period of time it may be possible to have the union annulled and there are certain rights that same sex couples enjoy.

When a relationship is terminated there is always the issue of property division. The rules that apply to this are different from one jurisdiction to another but couples are not bound by law to follow the default rules as they can go into the marriage with a pre-nuptial agreement drafted by a family law lawyer.

Family law deals with far more issues than just the dissolution of a relationship and its associated complexities. Family law also involves issues that involve physical and emotional abuse. Although the majority of cases involving abuse are between couples, the law will not hesitate to intervene when it is necessary to protect an elderly family member, those who are still dating, or even a roommate. The normal approach in cases involving abuse is for the court to issue a restraining order which prevents the parties from further contact.

Child custody is a very common dispute in a family court. Although in the majority of cases it is reasonable to assume that both parents are concerned with the safety and well-being of their child, during a divorce action the parents are often distrustful of each other which leads to conflict. To the ruling judge the state of affairs of the marriage means nothing; the judge will always decide who is granted custody on what is in the best interest of the child or children.

As the child’s interests must be first and foremost the court can give one parent or the other custody or the court can decide that shared custody is best. In the case of shared custody the court will assign a custodial parent and give the non-custodial parent the right to spend weekends, the summer vacation, and alternating holidays with the child.

With the recognition of gay relationships and same sex marriages, family law is changing and changing quickly; this makes it more important than ever to seek the assistance of a seasoned divorce lawyer in Houston in the event of conflict.

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