Family law discusses information about such topics as marriage, divorce, adoption, child support, and child custody. Many of these laws are similar to those of other states, with minor differences. For instance, California does not require a blood test or a waiting period for couples wishing to get married, as many other states do. Also, California allows same-sex couples to get married. As a practice area, family law also includes child abuse, domestic abuse, stalking, and protective orders (all of which cross over into criminal law).

Learn About California Family Laws

California Adoption Laws


Adopting a child can be a joyous occasion, but adoption can also be a legally complex process. State laws regarding who can be adopted, who can adopt, and how the process works can be pretty tough to figure out.

Regulations and laws regarding adoption, including who may adopt and special requirements for adoptive parents, are fairly similar among most states. California law requires prospective parents to be at least 10 years older than the adoptee and need the consent of children 12 and older, which is not too different from laws in other states. However, since adoption is such a complicated (and important) process, you should contact an attorney for assistance.

Each state has different adoption laws.

California Child Custody Laws


Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions concerning their child moving forward (referred to as “legal custody”) and how they will share time with the child (referred to as “parenting time,” “timesharing,” or “physical custody,” depending on the state). If parents are unable to come to an agreement, courts will decide the best course of action based on the state’s child custody laws.

All states, except Massachusetts, adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

California Child Support Calculations


One of the more common questions raised by parents who are considering splitting up or have separated is how child support is determined by courts. Regardless of the nature of the legal custody arrangement between parents who have separated, child support may not be shouldered only by the custodial parent.

In other words, in joint custody arrangements parents that have split up may often share the costs associated with child support. It is very rare for one parent never to see their child or children after a separation, and most couples that have split up share custody in some way. In addition, most states have updated or are updating their guidelines to factor in the number of annual overnights that each parent has with their children to determine the percentages of costs associated with child support that each parent must shoulder.

California Marriage Law

California Marriage Law: Basics Requirements

Marriage in California became available to gay couples after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Under California marriage law, the individuals must be of appropriate age (18 or older without parental consent), both must be consenting to the marriage, and they must have capacity.

For consent to exist, both people must freely enter the marriage and not be forced in any way to marry the other person. They also must have no mistake as to the nature of the union. As long as both of these conditions are met, consent exists.

For a person to have capacity, they must be of “sound” mind and be capable of understanding and appreciating the nature of their union. This requirement does not prevent a person with any form of mental illness from marrying. As long as the person can understand what their obligations are to the person they are marrying, they are assumed to be of “sound” mind. Physical inability to consummate the marriage also does not prevent a person from having capacity.

California Spousal Support or Alimony Law

In California, monthly alimony or “spousal support” may be ordered by the court or agreed upon by the spouses as part of their settlement agreement to be paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to alleviate any unfair economic burdens that may befall the lower-wage-earning spouse or the non-wage-earning spouse after a divorce takes place. Alimony awards can vary greatly in the amount and length of time for which it must be paid.

Factors in Spousal Support Rulings

In California, various factors are taken into consideration when determining an alimony order:

  1. Age, physical condition, and financial condition of the spouses;
  2. The spouses’ earning abilities;
  3. The standard of living during marriage (i.e. if the payee spouse was used to a very high standard of living during marriage, the court may order more alimony to be paid than if the payee spouse was used to a very low standard of living);
  4. The length of the marriage; and
  5. The ability of the payer spouse to support himself/herself