What is family law?
Black’s Law Dictionary (Bryan A. Garner, Editor in Chief, 10th ed. 2014), family law:
family law (1919) 1. The body of law dealing with marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody and support, child abuse and neglect, paternity, assisted reproductive technology, and other domestic-relations issues. • Juvenile delinquency is sometimes considered part of family law, though some categorize it only as criminal law. — Also termed domestic relations; domestic-relations law. 2. (More broadly) all the law dealing with wills and estates, property, constitutional rights, contracts, employment, and finance as they relate to families.
“Considered historically, family law began as a branch of public law, and only in recent times, whilst individualist theories have been dominant, has it become a branch of private law. Family law, administered by the paterfamilias, preceded the birth of the state, and is therefore older than other branches of public law. Later, the state was able to break down the corporate unity of the family, and to impose its commands directly upon the individual. Even today, however, it may be contended that the individual, in providing for the support and development in society of his family, is fulfilling a semipublic function.” G.W. Keeton, The Elementary Principles of Jurisprudence 328 (2d ed. 1949).