family law

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Family law, also referred to as domestic relations in many states, is the broad body of law that covers marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, reproductive rights, and other matters regarding family relationships. Much of family law originates in English common law traditions surrounding marriage and the family unit. However, modern family law has expanded far beyond its common law roots, and family law is governed mostly by state law which varies highly from state to state. Some states take a limited view of family law, but many states such as New York take a broad view that includes parts of criminal law like juvenile delinquency. Often, states establish separate family or domestic courts to address matters of family law.

Find State statutes on family law here.

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]