What is family law?
Before getting directly into the concept of family law, it is very important to know something about the law in general as well as a courses that lead to career in this particular field. For the past few years, the law degree has been appreciated and accepted by many students as a course to have a full-time career as a lawyer. Thus, many universities and colleges are incorporating the law programmes into their courses offer.
Students are mostly attracted to the legal field with a dream of becoming a barrister or solicitor.
Law is a legal study that introduces the rules and regulations of business, economics, finance, politics, the environment, human rights, international trade and relations. In law, there are many sub-categories such as Intellectual Property Law, Tax law, Family Law, Property Law etc. This article is going to provide you with more in-depth details about what Family Law is, what the statutes related to them are, and the major type of issues it deals with.
Family Law comprises of a number of Acts of Parliament which are applied and interpreted by the Higher Courts to create legal precedent. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, also known as MCA 1973, is the core legislation related to divorce and financial proceedings. The Children Act of 1989 (CA 1989) is the primary source of law concerning children’s upbringing, welfare, etc.
Other important legislations under the Family Law include:
- Declaration of existing property rights, known as the Married Women’s Property Act 1882
- Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 (DMPA 1973) regulating the disputes procedures within the related jurisdictions of England, Wales, Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Alderney, etc.
- Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984), Part III deals with post-divorce financial issues
- Child Support Act 1991 (CSA 1991)
- Family Law Act 1996 (FLA 1996), Part IV in relation to family homes and domestic violence
- Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into English law
- Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) regulating same-sex partnerships and marriages win the UK
- ACA 2002, Adoption and Children Act 2002
- Children and Families Act 2014, CFA 2014
The UK legal system comprises three jurisdictions: Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. Each of these jurisdictions has quite different court and Family Law systems. Family law covers divorce, adoption, child abduction, wordship and parental responsibility. Family Law can be either public law or private law.
Family Law cases can be submitted and heard in both, family proceedings courts and country courts. Both of the courts follow and operate under codes of Family Procedure Rules. In the Family Law, there is also a specialist division of the High Court of Justice, where the Family Law cases are heard.
Difference between Divorce and Annulment in Family Law
When it’s about breaking a marriage relationship, both divorce and annulment are the court procedures that lead to dissolve a marriage. Although, while a divorce simply ends the marriage, an annulment considers the marriage as if it never happened. While you may have to wait at least 1 year for divorce, the marriage can be annulled at any time after the wedding. If you decide to wait too long, however, apply years after the wedding, you might be asked to explain the delay.
There are certain rules for the marriage to be annulled, which you will have to prove to the court. First of all, you or your spouse must have either: lived in England or Wales for at least a year or had a permanent home in England or Wales for at least 6 months.
The reasons you will have tom prove to consider your marriage invalid, or void for one of the following reasons:
- you are closely related
- one or both of you were under 16
- one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
- it was not consummated – you have not had sex with the person you married since the wedding (does not apply for same sex couples)
- you did not properly consent to the marriage – for example you were drunk or forced into it
- the other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- the woman was pregnant by another man when you got married
Annulment Preferred over a Divorce in a Family law
Well, as both the terms annulment and divorce refer the same, i.e., dissolving of a marriage. There are certain factors that will allow the annulment to be over a divorce.
Distribution of property: As already said early, the annulment states the dissolving of marriage in such a way as if the marriage never happened before. As a result, there is no need to subject towards the marital property requirements, such as the half rule associated with community property laws. Here, each partner will be allowed to keep the property that they entered into the marriage with.
Remarrying: Mostly in some religious contexts, it’s more preferable to have a record of annulment rather than a divorce. For example, as per some religious customs, it may be easier to remarry after an annulment compared with divorce.
Thus now, you would have got a detailed idea about the most common sub-category ‘family law’ before getting into the LLB course.