According to the Constitution, Family Laws encompass the broad set of rules that are in practice regarding family cases, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. There are some legally enforceable human rights and duties that arise when one gives legal validation to the status of interpersonal relationships.The justification for having family laws that affect the most private aspects of our life is to ensure protection of individual human rights and to uphold certain norms that are essential to human dignity. Another reason is that family laws act as agents of social change and may succeed in improving the status of individuals in society.
There are five broad sets of family laws in India – Hindu law, which governs all Hindus as also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs; Muslim law for the Muslims; Christian law for the Christians; Parsi law for the Parsi’s and a secular law i.e. the Special Marriage Act. The religion-based legal laws are derived from religious texts. These laws have also been amended from time to time by parliamentary legislation.
Family cases are a type of civil case, but they generally involve issues between or concerning spouses, parents, and children. Family courts handle a wide variety of cases involving domestic matters. The most common issues handled at family court include:
When anyone wants to end a marriage, they can file a case at family court to ask for a court order to end the marriage. Marriages can be terminated through divorce or annulment cases. The family court can also grant a separation, where the court issues orders regarding property, alimony, and child custody, but the parties remain legally married. You can find more information on the Divorce, Annulment, or Separation sections of this site.
When a Human needs to be declared the father of a child, either parent can file a case asking the family court to determine paternity. This permanently establishes the father of the child. Unmarried parents can also ask the family court to order legal custody, physical custody, visitation schedules, and child support. You can find more information about these types of cases on the Custody, Paternity, & Child Support section of this website.
Victims of domestic violence can ask the family court to provide protection orders to keep their abuser away. Please visit the DV Protection Orders for more information.
A child or an adult may be able to legally change their unique name through a name change case at family court. Please visit the Name Change section for more information.
Guardianship involves determining who will be responsible for the medical, personal, and financial decisions over a child or an adult who cannot care for them-self. More information can be found on the Guardianship section of this website.
If there are serious reasons why a person should no longer have a parental relationship with a child (such as abandonment, neglect, abuse, etc.), the family court may terminate that parent’s rights. If someone else wants to become a child’s legal parent, the family court can grant an adoption where the parent-child relationship is legally created. More information is located on the Adoptions and Terminating Parental Rights section of this website.
Family court oversees all matters where there are allegations of child abuse, child neglect, or where minors are accused of participating in illegal behavior. These matters are largely handled by the District Attorney Juvenile Division. The family court can also approve work permits for minors under the age of 14. Visit Juvenile Work Permits for more information about this.