Family law, like every other body of law – such as criminal law – falls primarily under each state’s jurisdiction. This is why, in the State of Texas, family law is governed by the Texas Family Code, which is made up of statutory rules. Better understanding these statutory rules or laws can help you better understand family law in Texas.
What Is Statutory Law?
When a court decides the outcome of a case, it can apply two different kinds of law, which include common law (verdicts determined by previous courts in similar situations and jurisdictions) and statutory law (the formal rules and regulations determined by various legislative bodies in both state and federal government). While statutory law typically does not make for light reading, the wordy language belies fairly straightforward material. The Texas Family Code is just one example of a body of statutory law, and within it is a broad array of topics that relate to families. While the Texas Family Code is unwieldy, it can be broken down into five basic sections.
The Texas Family Code: An Overview
The five topical areas of the Texas Family Code include:
The Marriage Relationship – In the Marriage Relationship section, you will find topics related to the contractual act of marriage, including the legal requirements of marriage, divorce, and the division of community (marital) property, common-law marriages, and more.
Children in Relation to the Family – The Children in Relation to the Family section defines parents’ responsibilities in relation to their children in the family environment and the legal limitations of minors. This includes holding parents legally responsible for their children’s physical and mental health. Other issues addressed include name changes, immunizations, and abortion.
Juvenile Justice Code – The Juvenile Justice Code is one space where family law, which is civil law, intersects with criminal law. This section of the Texas Family Code focuses primarily on the technicalities that govern juvenile criminal proceedings. These include jurisdictional requirements, age restrictions, types of crimes, appeals, and the appointment of guardian ad litems (who represent the interests of juveniles).
Protective Orders and Family Violence – Here, family law again crosses over into the criminal space, and the Protective Orders and Family Violence section addresses such issues as protective orders, the response of law enforcement, dating violence, and stalking.
The Parent-Child Relationship and the Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship – This section again addresses parents’ responsibilities for their children. It focuses on those lawsuits that affect the parent-child relationship. As such, issues related to children and divorce predominate, and matters like custody arrangements, child support, care responsibilities, conservatorship rights, and more are covered.