Family Law is a varied area of the law that regulates family relations, encompassing such areas as divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and adoption. The laws on these subjects, particularly divorce, can vary from state to state and are constantly changing and evolving. Family Law can also include separation agreements, cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements, children’s rights, domestic violence and other areas of the law involving family relations.
While most people opt for a no-fault divorce, fault divorce remains a legal option. In Pennsylvania, grounds for divorce include desertion, adultery, bigamy, confinement for incurable insanity for at least a year and half, and cruel and inhuman treatment which endangered the life of the spouse. In New Jersey, grounds for divorce include extreme physical or mental cruelty, desertion for at least a year, drunkenness or addition for at least a year, being institutionalized for mental illness for at least two consecutive years, being imprisoned for 18 months, and sexually deviant conduct.
Most states now have laws governing no-fault divorce in some form. In a no-fault divorce, the divorce is not contested and neither side blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage, citing incompatibility or more commonly irreconcilable differences. Quite often couples seeking a no-fault divorce are already living separately and have been doing so for some time.
Child custody, child visitation rights, and alimony are often the most rancorous part of a divorce. Child support as well as alimony often depend on the family’s income and the style in which they were living prior to the dissolution of the marriage. People are often unaware that they are entitled to alimony or child support payments. Conversely, certain situations or events may warrant a reduction in alimony or child support. It is not uncommon for legal problems in this area to surface after a divorce settlement has been finalized.
Adoption is another family law matter that can have many legal consequences and often requires the need of an experienced attorney. Adoptions can occur through an adoption agency or orphanage, if a spouse remarries following a divorce, if a parent is deceased and the surviving spouse remarries, or in some cases, when both parents die or are killed. In any case, an attorney is usually needed, whether a family member, a close family friend, or unrelated individual wishes to adopt the surviving child or children.
Freundlich & Littman, LLC, have experienced and sympathetic family law attorneys. If you are experiencing a family problem with the potential for legal implications, contact us at (215) 545-8500 or info@FreundlichandLittman.com for a free consultation to learn your options and rights.