family law



In marriage, abandonment is grounds for divorce in most states.  Grounds arise when one spouse physically leaves the other with no intent on returning.  Usually, the minimum time allowed to claim abandonment is one year, but it...


See alsoAbandon



1) Property: Used in property law to describe an estate that is free from any limitations at all.  Only a fee simple may be absolute.

2) Divorce: An absolute divorce is a final judgment of divorce that dissolves the marriage and...



1) Abuse, generally: physically, sexually, or mentally injuring a person.

2) Child abuse: physically, sexually, or mentally injuring a child either with intent or through neglect.

3) Substance abuse: excessively using or misusing...



1) In terms of copyright, access refers to the ability of a potential infringer to see or obtain the copyrighted material. Access is important in determining whether a potential infringer has in fact illicitly copied the copyrighted material...



Adoption refers to the act by which an adult formally becomes the guardian of a child and incurs the rights and responsibilities of a parent. At the conclusion of the formal process, a legal relationship between child and guardian will have...


When a marriage ends in divorce, one spouse may receive monetary support from the other.  Oftentimes, the receiving spouse must be unable to support themselves without the help of their ex-spouse.  Depending on the state, support may be based...

Child Custody

 Child custody: an overview

In cases of divorce, the court of jurisdiction for the divorce proceedings also determines child custody arrangements. Under the common statutory provision, if the spouses have children together while married, the...

Child Support

child support: an overview

Child support refers to the sum that the noncustodial parent must pay to the custodian. This sum serves as a parental contribution for the child's basic living expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter, health care, and...

Children's Rights

children's rights: an overview

A child is a person and not a subperson over whom the parent has an absolute possessory interest. The term "child" does not necessarily mean minor but can include adult children as well as adult nondependent children....

Consent Divorce

A divorce granted where both parties agree to the divorce and both go to a particular jurisdiction to obtain the divorce. However, this type of divorce is not valid if neither spouse is domiciled in the jurisdiction where the divorce was granted.


Divorce and Separation: An Overview

A divorce formally dissolves a legal marriage. While married couples do not possess a constitutional or legal right to divorce, states permit divorces because to do so best serves public policy. To ensure that a...

Divorce laws

Divorce Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

This page links to the divorce laws of the states and to tables summarizing some of their salient points. Those interested in the divorce law of a particular jurisdiction should...

Emancipation of Minors

All states have laws dealing with the "emancipation" of minors; that is, laws that specify when and under what conditions children become independent of their parents for important legal purposes. A complete reference to statutory provisions for...

Emancipation of minors - laws

Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico Governing the Emancipation of Minors

This page links to the laws of the states dealing with the "emancipation" of minors, that is, the provisions dealing with when and on what conditions...

Employment Discrimination

Employment Discrimination Overview:

Employment Discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age by employers. Discriminatory practices include...

Estate Planning

 estate planning: an overview

Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended...

Estates and Trusts

estates and trusts: an overview

During the early 1500's in England landowners found it advantageous to convey the legal title of their land to third parties while retaining the benefits of ownership. Because they were not the real "owners" of the land,...

Family Court

A family court is a court of limited jurisdiction that hears cases involving family law. For example, family courts typically hear cases involving divorce, child custody, and domestic abuse. Family courts are governed by state and local law. Depending...

Family law - State statutes

For the marriage, divorce, and adoption laws of the states see the LII table pages on those subjects: Adoption Law | Divorce Law | Emancipation of Children | Marriage Law

Alabama Children Marital and Domestic Relations Alaska Children- Title...



Courts appoint guardians to care for people who cannot take care of themselves. The person a guardian protects is called that guardian's ward. Wards may be either minor children or incapacitated adults. In some other jurisdictions, "custodial...



1.  Lack of legal ability to do something, especially to testify or stand trial.  Also known as "incompetency."  May be caused by various types of disqualification, inability, or unfitness.  Someone who is judged...

Incurable Insanity

A legal reason for obtaining a divorce.  It is rarely used, however, because of the difficulty of proving both the insanity of the spouse being divorced and that the insanity is incurable.



A relative, in particular, a blood relative. Also a relative by marriage or adoption. Also called kindred, kinsman, and kinswoman. 

Illustrative caselaw

See, e.g. Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235 (1981).

See also




See kin.

Marital Property

Marital property is property acquired after the parties are married.  Property acquired before the marriage is considered the individual and separate property of the acquiring spouse and the court will have no authority to distribute individual...

Marital Settlement Agreement

Allows divorcing spouses to agree to the terms of their divorce.  The agreement generally can cover property division, spousal (maintenance) support, child custody and visitation arrangements, and any other issues relevant to the divorcing couple...



The legal union of a couple as spouses. The basic elements of a marriage are: (1) the parties' legal ability to marry each other, (2) mutual consent of the parties, and (3) a marriage contract as...

Marriage laws

Marriage Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

This table links to the marriage laws of the states and attempts to summarize some of their salient points. Those interested in the marriage law of a particular jurisdiction should...

Personal Autonomy


The Supreme Court does not use the phrase "personal autonomy" very often. Unlike privacy, it is not a fundamental right. As such, it is still a very limited concept regarding its impact on legal jurisprudence.

In Planned Parenthood v....



An abbreviation for qualified domestic trust. See qualified domestic trust. 



An abbreviation for qualified medical child support order. See qualified medical child support order.

QTIP trust


An abbreviation for qualified terminable interest property trust. See qualified terminable interest property trust.

Illustrative caselaw

See, e.g. Wells Fargo Bank New Mexico, N.A. v. United States, 319 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2003).


Qualified indorsement (endorsement)


An indorsement — the placement of a signature on the back of a negotiable instrument — coupled with an additional phrase, e.g. "without recourse" or "for deposit only," limiting the liability of the indorser (signer) in the event the...

Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO)


Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), a judgment, decree, or order regarding child support and coverage under a group health plan that (1) assigns the right to receive benefits under a group health plan and (2...

Quasi-community property


Property acquired by a married person or couple in a non-community property state that would have been community property if it had been acquired in a community property state, e.g. California. If the married couple subsequently relocates to...