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Family Law, specialized area of legal practice dealing with rights and duties among husbands, wives, and children.
There are two types of divorce-- absolute and limited. An absolute divorce, (also called a "divorce a vinculo matrimonii" is a judicial termination of a marriage based on marital misconduct or other statutory cause arising after the marriage ceremony. As a result of an absolute divorce both parties' status becomes single again.
Several jurisdictions' statutes authorize limited divorces, or "divorce a mensa et thoro." The consequences of limited divorces vary from state to state. Typically, a limited divorce is commonly referred to as a separation decree; the right to cohabitation is terminated but the marriage is undissolved and the status of the parties is not altered.
Many states have enacted what is called no-fault divorce statutes. This is a response to outdated common law divorce which required proof in a court of law by the divorcing party that the divorcee had done one of several enumerated things as sufficient grounds for the divorce. This entailed proving that the spouse had committed adultery, or some other unsavory act. No-fault divorce eliminates this potentially embarrassing and undesirable requirement by providing for the dissolution of a marriage on a finding that the relationship is no longer viable. It is hard to tell whether no-fault divorce statutes are the cause or an effect of the rising national divorce rate in America. Look to various state laws for divorce law information.
Generally, statutes authorize the court having jurisdiction of divorce proceedings to determine who shall have custody of children from the marriage. (The authority to do so is considered part of the original jurisdiction of the court, and not as a new authority being conferred upon them.) Under the common statutory provision, the parents of a child born within a marriage are joint guardians of that child and the rights of both parents are equal--each parent has an equal right to the custody of the child when they separate.
Like other aspects of family law, most law in this field is state rather than Federal.
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