It’s all in the Family – Family Law visited!

Family Law India

The Matrimonial Law is another name for The Family Law. This law caters to family matters and domestic relations only. For example, marriage and civil unions, domestic partnerships like adoption and surrogacy; child abuse and child abduction, divorce, property settlements, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony awards, juvenile adjudication, paternity testing, and paternity fraud.

What is included in Family Law?

This list is not exhaustive and develops depending on jurisdiction. Being a secular State, there are a wide number of religions freely practiced in India. The major religions include Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. People solemnize marriages as per religious rituals and ceremonies, which are organized customarily by statutory personal laws and hence the matrimonial laws in India, including laws on marriage, divorce and other connected issues.

These laws in India are administered by the particular legislation of the parties depending on their religion:

  • Hindu: Hindu Marriage Act 1955 (governs all Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains), Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, The Indian Succession Act, 1925, Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA)
  • Muslim: Muslim marriage is a commitment under Muslim law.
  • Christian: Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 & the Divorce Act 1869.
  • Parsi: Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936.
  • A secular law: the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

All these laws apply throughout India (except for in Jammu and Kashmir, and Goa).

Types of Family Law

When an individual attains legal validation for interpersonal relationships, some legally enforceable rights and duties arise. These duties and right are governed by Family Law.

Even though these laws affect extremely private aspect of a person’s life, these need to be necessarily imposed primarily to ensure that all the rights of an individual are protected and respected and secondarily to sustain the norms which are crucial for human dignity.

Another reason is that laws can be used as tools to bring out a change in society and to enhance the stature of a person in the surrounding world.

Family law in itself is a broad area of litigation. It covers a wide category of issues among family members and relations. The family law helps people to resolve their disputes or disagreements after they have tried all other means of mediation. Either ending a difficult marriage or establishing a conservatorship, people turn to the family law as it provides direction during the trial. Simplifying the adoption process or marriage counseling are some of the benefits that are provided by the domestic law.

Family law is further split into various departments.  It is divided primarily into two sections, one of which involves divorce and marital issues, and the other involving custody and family matters.

Other Marriage-related family laws are as follows:

  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Spousal Support
  • Separation
  • Child Support
  • Pre and Postnuptial Agreements
  • Change of name before and post marriage

Other types of family law include:

  • Adoptions
  • Dependency law
  • Visitation
  • Restraining orders
  • Guardianships
  • Emancipation
  • Juvenile crimes/dependencies

Family law often involves some complicated and emotionally charged issues, many of which require an outside mediator to resolve the issues. The government has set up family courts for speedy disposal of disputes concerning family matters.