One of the quirks of the American legal system is that not every case that involves families is governed by family law. Some of the contradictions can feel pretty confusing. There are also plenty of scenarios where parts of a legal matter will be handled within the family court system and others will be dealt with in other courts. Let's take a look at what makes something a family law matter.

Dealing with Living Arrangements

Questions about who lives where are almost always family court issues, especially if they involve minors. Custody and visitation are the primary concerns here. There is also a limited capacity for a family judge to deal with issues involving adult dependents, folks who might not be in the best positions to make their own decisions.

The emancipation of a minor is another topic that fits squarely in the family category. Adoption does, too.

Some Financial Issues

The simplest financial concerns, particularly the payment of child support, tend to land squarely in the family legal domain. Spousal support also falls into this arena.

Trust law can intrude into family court issues. For example, it's common for a dependent that has special needs to have a trust set up for them. In these cases, the family courts are only involved insofar as they're needed to provide supporting documents.

Estates and probates nearly never cross into the family law domain. As with trusts, you might ask the family court to provide some supporting documentation or even case files. This includes things like adoption, emancipation, and marriage certificates.

Almost No Abuse Concerns

A family court judge will consider how abuse might fit into the family dynamic. Problems that might lead to someone losing property or liberty, however, are squarely matters for criminal courts. In many of these cases, it will be the criminal law professionals who are sending support documents over to the family section at the courthouse.

It's worth noting that the courts place a strong emphasis on maintaining family structures whenever possible. This means that even if there is a criminal conviction for an offense like spousal battery or child abuse, the judge may strongly encourage a structured approach to bringing the offender back into the equation.

For example, a parent accused of abuse might have to attend counseling sessions. They may also be subject to having police present during visits until improvements in their worrisome conduct have been noted.

To learn more about family law, contact a lawyer.