This post is coauthored by Barbara Bavis and Robert Brammer, legal reference specialists.
Whether it be in relation to marriage, the birth of children, adoption, or divorce, family law is one area of the law that affects nearly everyone. But even though family law is a part of daily life, legal issues in this area can quickly become complex. Below, we have collected a sampling of the marriage and divorce law resources available, both at the Law Library of Congress and on the free web, to help researchers get a better handle on these issues.
For True Beginners
- Family Law in a Nutshell, by Harry D. Krause & David D. Meyer
- Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce, by Emily Doskow
- The Legal Answer Book for Families, by Emily Doskow & Marcia Stewart
- Marriage and Divorce, by Margaret C. Jasper
- Family Law, by William P. Statsky
- Family Law in Perspective, by Walter Wadlington & Raymond C. O’Brien
- Family Law Statutes: Selected Uniform Laws, Federal Statutes, State Statutes, and International Treaties, selected and edited with notes by Walter Wadlington & Raymond C. O’Brien
- Marital Property Law, Rev. 2d, by John Tingley, et al.
- Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution: Analysis and Recommendations, by the American Law Institute
- Valuation & Distribution of Marital Property, edited by John P. McCahey & Barbara E. Adelman, et al.
- Understanding Family Law, by John DeWitt Gregory, Peter Nash Swisher, & Robin Fretwell Wilson
- 101+ Practical Solutions for the Family Lawyer: Sensible Answers to Common Problems, edited by Gregg Herman
- Family Law Checklists, by Richard E. Crouch
- Family Law and Practice, by Arnold H. Rutkin, et al.
- Family Law Trial Evidence Handbook: Rules and Procedures for Effective Advocacy, by Steven N. Peskind
- Client Letters for the Family Lawyer: Saving Time, Managing Relationships, and Practicing Preventive Law, by Mark E. Sullivan
- The Complete Guide to Divorce Practice: Forms and Procedures for the Lawyer, by Larry Rice & Nick Rice
- Forms, Checklists, and Procedures for the Family Lawyer, by Mark A. Chinn
- The Military Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide to Representing Military Personnel and Their Families, by Mark E. Sullivan
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family Law, by Courtney G. Joslin & Shannon P. Minter
- Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, by Frederick C. Hertz & Emily Doskow
- A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, by Frederick Hertz & Emily Doskow
Collaborative Law and Mediation
- Family Mediation: Theory and Practice, by Jane C. Murphy & Robert Rubinson
- Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce Without Litigation, by Pauline H. Tesler
- Divorce Without Court: A Guide to Mediation & Collaborative Divorce, by Katherine E. Stoner
- Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families Without Going to Court, by Forrest S. Mosten
- Lindey and Parley on Separation Agreements and Antenuptial Contracts, by Alexander Lindey & Louis I. Parley
- Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract, by Katherine E. Stoner & Shae Irving
- Premarital Agreements: Drafting and Negotiating, by Linda Ravdin
- Attacking and Defending Marital Agreements, by Brett R. Turner & Laura W. Morgan
The regulation of family law is largely the purview of the states and, in many instances, there are state-specific treatises on the dissolution of marriage. To locate treatises specific to your state’s law, please click here to use our catalog and browse subject headings. Click “browse” and use the drop-down to select “SUBJECTS beginning with” or “SUBJECTS containing,” and then input a subject heading using one of the examples shown below. Finally, click on a result and you can browse the materials classified under that subject heading.
- Domestic relations–United States.
- Domestic relations–[State Name].
- Domestic relations–United States–Forms.
- Domestic relations–United States–States.
- Domestic relations–United States–Trial practice.
- Divorce suits–United States.
- Divorce suits–United States–Forms.
- Prenuptial agreements–United States.
- Divorce mediation–United States.
To locate your state’s statutes on topics associated with family law, please see our Guide to Law Online page and click on your state. You will find a link to your state’s code under the heading “Legislative.” You will often find that family law, which is sometimes listed as “domestic relations,” has its own title or chapter.
You may want to visit your local public law library to take advantage of their subscription(s) to commercial legal research databases, such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. You can also locate cases related to dissolution of marriage using Google Scholar and other sites on the free web. Because this area of law is often state-specific, you may want to limit your results to your particular jurisdiction. You may find that you need cases that interpret and apply a particular provision of your state’s family law statutes. You can locate these cases by searching Google Scholar using the citation to a section of your state’s code. To learn more about how to use Google Scholar to find free case law online, please view the Library of Congress video tutorial on the subject.
Rules of Procedure
Many states have distinct rules of procedure for family law. If you are submitting a pleading to a court, be sure to check the Federal or State Rules of Procedure, as well as the local court rules to ensure you have complied with their rules. For more information about state and local court rules, and to find links to pertinent online legal information, be sure to visit each state’s Guide to Law Online page.
State and local court websites often contain forms related to family law, and some even contain form packets. Again, please check our Guide to Law Online site for links to state and local court websites. Other online sources that might be helpful include:
- Divorce In Military Families – How It’s Different & What You Need To Know, by Stateside Legal
- Rights and Benefits of Divorced Spouses in the Military, by Military OneSource
- Divorce, by the Legal Information Institute
- Divorce & Family Law, by Nolo
We hope you found this guide helpful. Please note that the topics of child custody and support will appear in a forthcoming guide. If you have any questions regarding your legal research, please contact the Law Library of Congress.