The basics of family law

The Basics of Family Law

Family law delves into separations, divorces, and related childcare. Many family-related changes must go through court like applying for a divorce, but others can be achieved outside of court. It’s up to the pair in question if they’d like to proceed through court or achieve results amicably.


No family law court filings are necessary for a couple to separate. The separation occurs when they decide not to live together anymore. This applies even to couples who still live in the same household due to personal reasons. The initiation date of their separation is defined as when they decided to stop living together as a couple. If they’re in the same household, they are living individually (like a roommate).

The date of separation is important for the court in family law. If a married couple seeks to divorce, they must separate for one year before filing for that divorce. For unmarried couples who want to divide assets have to create a court filing within 24 months of separation. For married couples wanting to divide assets, they can do this any time before their divorce is finalized.


One year after separation, a married couple can be divorced according to family law. Divorce can only be obtained through court filing. However, it can be a straight-forward process depending on the amicability of the spouses. Agreeing on terms regarding bills, property, childcare, and other joint assets without the need of court orders allows for quickly approved divorces and generally happier divorcees. However, child support and custody is often the hardest part of a divorce proceeding.

Child Custody

Deciding where a child lives during and after a divorce is often the most difficult decisions made between a divorcing couple. Income, safety, personal lifestyle, and parental care are observed and evaluated in family law before coming to court-ordered conclusions. Parents must be able to support themselves and their child financially, educationally, and emotionally in order to obtain custody.

However, assigning child custody doesn’t have to be difficult if the divorcing couple can agree on specified arrangements and file those arrangements with the court.

Child and Spousal Support

When a parent gains custody of a child, the other parent is usually required to provide financial support to the parent with custody for that child’s care. This support doesn’t necessarily have to be court ordered in family law. If both parents can agree to follow their own terms, then it is suitable.

In some cases, one spouse may be required to provide financial support to the other. There is no right to receive spousal support, and it doesn’t have to be court ordered if the divorcing spouses can come to their own agreement. The length of the relationship and the role each spouse played during their relationship play significant roles in a court’s decision to require spousal support.

Child Visitation

Visitation for the parent who does not receive custody of a child is usually appointed by the court in family law to ensure a continued parent-child relationship. The parent being visited continues to have the right to be informed of decisions related to their child’s health, education, and welfare.

Child visitation is not tied to child support, meaning if a parent fails to provide child support their access cannot be denied and vice versa.

Modification of Existing Orders

Usually, a modification request is made due to a significant change in circumstances. This can include the loss of a job, sudden illness, substance abuse, and relocation. Proof of the change in circumstances must be presented to the court, meaning written correspondence and physical evidence is necessary for a modification approval. An attempt to resolve any of these related issues must also be made prior to the filing.

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