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FAMILY LAW

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Family law deals with legal rights and obligations within the family: marriage, annulment, divorce, premarital agreement, child support and custody, property division, visitation rights, living together, and more.

Getting Married. Under the US family law both the man and the woman must be at least 18 years old to marry without parental consent. And there is no upper age limitation on marriages. Your spouse must be of the opposite sex and you can’t marry certain close relatives (marriages between a parent and a child, grandparent and grandchild, brother and sister, uncle and niece, and aunt and nephew are prohibited). And finally, you can have only one spouse at a time. If you remarry before divorcing your current spouse, you are guilty of bigamy. The second marriage is void from the very beginning.

Annulment and Divorce. In Anglo-American law, some marriages may be annulled. In other cases a couple may seek a divorce. The difference between a divorce and annulment is this: in a divorce, a valid marriage is legally ended, while an annulment means that the “marriage” never existed.

The major grounds for an annulment are: an underage party, an incestuous marriage, and bigamy.

The major grounds for a divorce are: adultery, unreasonable behavior, living apart for a set period of time.

A very important issue when people divorce isProtection of Children. Thisincludes child custody, visitation rights and child support.

Child custodycan be awarded to the mother or the father. If neither parent is fit to take care of the child, the judge may award custody to grandparents, other relatives or place the child in a public institution or a foster home.

Visitation rights are awarded to the parent who doesn’t have custody of the children.

The parent who has no custody of the children must pay monthly payment called child support. The amount of child support depends on: the needs of the children and the parent’s ability to pay. The obligation to support a child ends only when the child reaches the age ofmajority or becomes emancipated.

When issuing a divorce the judge has to decide on Division of Property. There are 2 kinds of marital property: community property and separate property. Community property is everything earned or acquired by a couple during marriage; separate property is everything a person owned before marriage, as well as gifts and inheritances received during marriage. The judge can divide only the community property, separate propertyremains the property of the spouse who owns it.

Rights of succession. The property of a dead relative is mostly dealt with in Anglo-American law under the law of probate. This is distinct from family law.

Many people make a will before their death. In English law, the maker of a will is called a testator.

If there is no will the laws of succession lay down who has the right to the property of a dead relative and in what order. Under Anglo-American law a surviving spouse is at the top of this order, followed by children, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins. If there are no relatives at all the properly passes to the State.


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