Family Legal Issues

Learn about common family legal issues.

Adoption and Foster Care

Browse the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to view adoption and foster care resources by state. You may also search the directory using keywords.

Additional information can be found at the following links:

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Child Support Enforcement

To get help with child support, contact your state or local child support agency. If you cannot resolve your child support issue with your local agency, view information from the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) on how to resolve your problem


Report a Noncustodial Parent

If you know the location of a noncustodial parent and which state the child support case is in, e-mail that information to

Child Support Enforcement Abroad

If you have questions about child support from/to someone in a foreign country, you may search the OCSE's international resources to see if there is a state or national agreement with the country in question. If you need further help, you may e-mail your international child support questions to

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Divorce Decrees and Certificates

A divorce decree is an official document from the court that grants the termination of a marriage. It includes specific details of the divorce.

A divorce certificate is issued by a state vital records office. It shows that a divorce occurred but does not state all of the same information as a divorce decree. You can save time and money by determining which document you need before making your request.

U.S. Divorces

Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree

Contact the "county clerk's office" or "clerk of the court" for the county or city in which the divorce was granted.

Get a Copy of a Divorce Certificate

Contact the state vital records office in which the divorce was granted.

Overseas Divorces

If the divorce occurred outside the U.S. and you are in the U.S., contact the appropriate country's embassy or nearest consulate to find out how to get a copy of the divorce decree.

United States law does not require U.S. citizens to register a foreign divorce decree at an embassy. But if the foreign country in which your divorce took place is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Authentication of Documents, you may bring your divorce decree to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to have it certified.

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Report a Name Change

You can change your name legally by marriage, divorce, a court proceeding, or other means.  To change your name in a court, you should check with a local court on the county level to determine the procedures.  You can also hire a lawyer to help you with the procedure.

Once you have changed your name, you need to report the change to the federal government.

  • Social Security Card
    Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Find out what documents you need to get a new card and how to change your name in their files.  
  • Tax Information
    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes name changes from Social Security Administration and has information about the need to report changes for taxpayers and their dependents.  
  • U.S. Passport
    If you have a U.S. passport, report your name change as soon as possible to order a new passport.
  • Certificate of Naturalization
    If you have a certificate of naturalization or of citizenship issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, file an N-565 form to have a replacement issued.  
  • Driver’s License or State Issued ID
    Notify your state's motor vehicle department to update your driver’s license or state issued ID.
  • Postal Service
    Report your name change to the local post office that delivers your mail.  
  • For Federal Employees
    If you are a currently a Federal Government employee, report your name change to your agency's office of human resources.  If you're an annuitant receiving pay from a Federal agency, you should report the name change to that agency.  

Consider where else your name is on file.  Examples include other state or local government offices, banks or other financial institutions, credit-card companies, and private employers.   

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