The subject of family law is a broad and diverse subject. It covers a wide range of issues and topics mainly involving the subject of marriage and the rights of children under marriage. Some of the subjects that pertain to family law are divorce, annulment and child support.
Typically the formal definition of divorce is worded in various ways, but generally it is designated as a decree or order from a court judge stating that a marriage is (from that day forward) terminated and dissolved.
What we consider divorce and how we handle it is different than how it was handled many years ago. Ancient civilizations considered the subjects of marriage and divorce (or marriage dissolution) to be matters of privacy and while certain religions have always had opinions regarding divorce governments did not generally get involved.
Since the time that the United States claimed its independence, the subject of divorce and family law developed on a regional basis, obviously because during the early years there was a lot of differing opinions on how the country should be run and the subject of family law was included in that development. The U.S. Constitution specified that divorce should be regulated individually by the states. For many years it was generally accepted that divorce would only be granted after one spouse showed evidence of fault, or breach of the marriage contract on the part of the other spouse.
Nowadays every state in the U.S. has accepted what is called a "no fault divorce." A no fault divorce means that the person in the marriage who is filing for divorce does not have to provide legal proof that their spouse did something specific to violate or breach the marriage contract.
Annulment in its most basic definition is a legal determination (by a court judge) that a marriage to be null and void, usually because the marriage was formed and took place under disputable circumstances. In the U.S., the rules that allow a marriage to be considered for annulment vary from one state to the other because individual states have varying family law regulations.
Most of the time a marriage is annulled when a marriage involves parties that are under legal age; and act of duress (one party claiming to be forced into the marriage); one party purposely concealing their previous life history to the to the other party, or any number of other factors. The difference between divorce and annulment is that whereas a divorce decrees that a marriage no longer exists, an annulment decree states that the marriage never legally existed.
Child support is the provision of financial support or payment of monies to ensure that a child whose parents have divorced will receive continuous, future financial support from both parents. It is commonly accepted by courts and society as a whole that such children need to have solid financial support system from both parents, even if they are no longer married and/or living together.
In most U.S. states child support is a form of a financial support payment plan that is determined or ordered by a judge in a family law court. It is also considered to be good public policy to require divorced parents to provide monetary support for their children so that the children do not become neglected and become dependent on already overburdened state and public welfare systems.