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Family Law and the Institution of Marriage

The institution of marriage is arguably the oldest institution in the world. Long before the advent of civilization, the process of selecting a permanent mate had become part of prehistoric society. And even in those ancient times there were certain rules and regulations for leaving your partner. Over millennia these rules coalesced into a universal code that exists in one form or other in each and every country in the world as “matrimonial law” (or family law).

Purview of Matrimonial Laws

This body of laws deals primarily with the problems and issues resulting from marriages, dissolution of marriages, the relationships between former legally wedded partners, custody and financial support of children, and alimony matters to count but a few.

In the case of a marriage (or any other form of civil union between two partners) turning sour, either one of the two may seek recourse through matrimonial law. If it happens shortly after marriage, they may seek an “annulment.” An annulment is quite unlike a divorce in the sense that neither of the two partners would be referred to as “divorcees” since an annulment effectively means the complete legal erasure of the marriage as if it had never existed and was never valid to begin with.

Annulments typically are granted to married couples who have not consummated their marriage, while divorce on the other hand is a more complicated procedure. In most countries, physical abuse is grounds for divorce.  However, family law also allows divorce if one partner simply gets bored with another partner and wants to leave for brighter prospects. In such cases, the law strives to keep the partners together, but if either partner is absolutely adamant, then divorce is inevitable.

Furthermore, the responsibility for the upbringing of any offspring from the marriage is the joint responsibility of both the parents even if custody is granted to only one. The law ensures that if (for instance) the mother has custody, the ex-husband will continue to pay child support until the child or children attain the age of majority.

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