Sensitive Family Matters
Family law is an area of law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations, including the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. It also deals with the many legal issues that may arise during the marriage, including spousal abuse, legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse, and child abduction. Also, it includes the termination of the relationship and legal matters, including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, and parental responsibility orders (child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony awards).
In many jurisdictions in the United States, the family courts are the most active in the legal system. Litigants representing all social and economic classes are parties within the family legal system.
Child support or maintenance is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver, or guardian. The money is for the care and support of children in a relationship or marriage that ended.
In family law, child support is often part of a divorce, marital separation, marriage annulment, parentage determination, or civil union dissolution. It may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.
If you are looking for child support enforcement resources, do a Google search using the terms “child support enforcement,” followed by your city and state. Enforcement of child support payments is usually a local matter. So, this may be the best way to find the help you need.
Alimony, maintenance, or spousal support is an obligation per divorce or family law. The obligation of financial support is based on the premise that both spouses have an absolute obligation to support each other during their marriage (or civil union). Alimony is the extension of the obligation to provide support, especially financial support after the separation or divorce of marriage occurs.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines alimony as an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce.
It is important to note that alimony is not child support, another ongoing financial obligation often established in divorce or marital separation. Child support is a legal agreement where one parent is required to contribute financially to support his or her children through the agency of the child’s other parent or legal guardian.
In family law, a legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority and the duty) to care for the personal and property interests of another person. The person who is being cared for is legally known as a ward. Usually, a person has the status of a legal guardian because the ward, usually a child, is incapable of caring for his or her interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability.
The guardian is often a relative, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin. However, the person does not have to be related to the individual; it could simply be a family friend. Or, it can generally be someone who cares about the individual’s well-being.
Most countries and states have laws that provide that the parents of a minor child are the legal custodian of that child and that the parents can designate who shall become the child’s legal guardian in the event of their death. This is typically executed through a legal will or last will and testament.
This helps parents ensure that the child will be cared for according to their wishes. This is generally considered the least disruptive, and the legal process is much easier than in other guardianship forms.
Following are the various form of legal guardians in family law:
- General Guardianship – Courts generally have the power to appoint a legal guardian for an individual who needs special protection. A guardian responsible for the ward’s personal well-being and financial interests is known as a general custodian.
- Special Guardianship – A person may also be a special guardian who may have limited powers over the ward’s interests. A special attendant may, for example, be given the legal right to determine the disposition of the ward’s property without authority over the ward’s person.
- Guardian Ad Litem – A guardian appointed to represent a person’s interests concerning a single action in litigation is a guardian ad litem. This is sometimes used during court cases or legal proceedings.
- Natural Guardianship – Some jurisdictions allow the parent of a child to exercise the authority of a legal guardian without a formal court appointment. In such circumstances, the parent acting in that capacity is called the natural custodian of that parent’s child.
What does a Private Investigator Need to Know?
A private investigator should be aware of family laws and regulations governing alimony and child support in the area in which their case is based. Although private investigators are not lawyers (in most cases) and are not expected to provide legal advice, it is helpful to understand the law to consult your client on such matters. The more you know, the better resource you become for them.
Private detectives are often involved with investigation cases that involve family matters. Cases include divorce investigations, custody battles, tracking down a deadbeat parent, and more. Understanding family law and related legal matters will help you offer more effective services to your clients.
Help With Child Support Cases
To hire a private investigator specializing in child support cases, please visit our Private Investigator Directory. While private investigators can’t enforce the law, they can help track down deadbeat parents, check out their financial resources, and conduct surveillance if needed. This can be helpful when you bring your spouse to court.
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions about family law, please visit one of the sites above, or post a message below. For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms. Also, see our collection of legal research tools.