California Family Code definition

If you and/or your family live in California, the California Family Code may affect several aspects of your life.

If you are considering marriage and starting a family, making changes to your family, register a newborn birth certificate, or are just curious about the laws that govern family matters in California, you should familiarize yourself with the California Family Code.

What Is the California Family Code?

The California Family Code is the body of laws that applies to cases filed in the superior court system (called Family Court) concerning:

  • Marriage, including rights and obligations during marriage
  • Nullity, dissolution, legal separation, and divorce
  • Division of property
  • Custody of minors regarding the California birth certificate
  • Child and spousal support
  • Prevention of domestic violence
  • Parent and child relationship (including determination of paternity after the issuance of a birth certificate, freedom from parental custody and control, foster care placement, and more)
  • Adoption

The family law code is made of a series of statutes and case precedents that effectively rule legal responsibilities between members of a family.

Is the Family Code the only family law in California?

No, there are several other code sections that apply to family law cases. However, the California Family Code is the main body of state laws on this matter.

Here are examples of other codes that must be taken into consideration during a family law case:

  • Evidence Code
  • Code of Civil Procedure
  • Business and Professions Code
  • Probate Code

How the California Family Code Is Organized

The California Family Code is organized into 20 separate Divisions relating to the specific subjects of family law (i.e. marriage, legal separation, adoption, etc.) The Code includes preliminary sections, definitions, and instructions regarding jurisdictions, meaning whether or not a case can be discussed in the Family Court.

California Family Code: Latest Changes

The California Family Code is regularly updated and amended.

In September 2020, for example, the Family Code section 6320 was changed. Section 6320 is part of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) and was expanded with new subsections better defining the terms ‘abuser’ and ‘coercive control’.

In 2019, one of the main changes affected section 4320, the most important and central spousal support statute in California. According to the amendment, domestic violence must now be taken into consideration when deliberating on spousal support.

The California Family Code is available for citizens to consult freely. However, before starting any legal proceedings, it is strongly advisable to refer to an attorney.