Legal Dictionary

family law

Definition of family law

Further reading

Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:

  • the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;
  • issues arising during marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction
  • the termination of the relationship and ancillary matters including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders (in the United States, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony awards).

This list is by no means dispositive of the potential issues that come through the family court system. In many jurisdictions in the United States, the family courts see the most crowded dockets. Litigants representative of all social and economic classes are parties within the system.

For the conflict of laws elements dealing with transnational and interstate issues, see marriage (conflict), divorce (conflict) and nullity (conflict).

Family Law may also refer to the marriage contract in Islamic faith, which includes the allowance of men to marry up to four wives.[1]

Criticism of Family Law

Members of the fathers' rights movement criticize the "win or lose" nature of family law in determining issues of divorce and child custody in many Western countries. Cross-national parties dealing with legal systems in different countries simultaneously grapple with substantive and procedural issues regarding child concerns.

Advocates of Alimony reform also critique the Family Law system. They argue that current system pits divorcing couples against each other over child support and alimony, creating a hostile environment for the family and requiring large payments to divorce attorneys.[2][3]


  2. "Divorce Arianna Style". The Huffington Post.
  3. "Divorce Reform In Massachusetts: David vs. Goliath". The Huffington Post.

Further reading


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     landed property
2.     lex fori
3.     status quo
4.     ownership
5.     lex loci delicti commissi
6.     lex situs
7.     sodomy
8.     lex causae
9.     unjustified
10.     AORO