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Family Law: Home

A research guide to Family Law for law students, bar examinees, and other researchers.


Annulment: A judicial or ecclesiastical declaration that a marriage is void. It establishes that the marital status never existed.

Asset: An item that is owned and has value.

Best Interests: A standard by which a court determines what arrangements would be to a child's greatest benefit, often used in deciding child-custody and visitation matters and in deciding whether to approve an adoption or a guardianship.

Child Support: A parent's legal obligation to contribute to the economic maintenance and education of a child until the age of majority, the child's emancipation before reaching majority, or the child's completion of secondary education. The obligation is enforceable both civilly and criminally.

Common-Law Marriage: A marriage that takes legal effect, without license or ceremony, when two people capable of marrying live together . . ., intend to be married, and hold themselves out to others as a married couple.

Community Property: Assets owned in common by [a married couple] as a result of its having been acquired during the marriage by means other than an inheritance or a gift to one spouse, each spouse generally holding a one-half interest in the property. Only nine states have community-property systems: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Custody: The care, control, and maintenance of a child awarded by a court to a responsible adult. Custody involves legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (caregiving authority), and an award of custody usually grants both rights.

Divorce: The legal dissolution of a marriage by a court.

Parenting Plan: A plan that allocates custodial responsibility and decision-making authority for what serves the child's best interests and that provides a mechanism for resolving any later disputes between parents. Also termed parenting agreement.

Visitation: A relative's, esp. a noncustodial parent's, period of access to a child. Also termed parental access; access; parenting time; residential time.

All definitions are from Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).


Family law is the body of law dealing with marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody and support, child abuse and neglect, paternity, juvenile delinquency, and other domestic-relations issues. More broadly, it encompasses the bodies of law dealing with wills and estates, property, constitutional rights, contracts, employment, and finance as they relate to families.

Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).

Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law: Type in Family Law in the search box on the home page, and select All Legal Content from the drop down menu. You may then refine your search results by date or by source type using the filters on the left side of the screen.

Lexis Advance: Browse Sources: Use this feature to search keywords related to this topic. You can narrow the results using the filters along the left side. Browse Topics: Click the Browse Topics tab and then choose Family Law.

Westlaw: Begin typing Family in the global search box and click a title of interest under the Looking for this? Feature that appears. Choose the Practice Area tab and click Family Law.

Subject Guide

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NOLO, Divorce & Family Law: This website provides basic legal information and resources about topics, such as divorce, child support, and adoption.

Free Family Law Forms: Sponsored by, this website compiles electronic resources to use for common family law issues such as divorce, modification, and more.

Texas Constitution and Statutes: Sponsored by the Texas Legislature Online, this website provides access to the Family Code. Use the drop down menu to view the Code.

What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court: Provided by The Texas Young Lawyer’s Association, this document is an overview to navigating a family law casein Texas Family Law courts.