A statute is a law established by an act of the legislature.
Under the U.S. and state constitutions, statutes are considered the primary source of law in the U.S. — that is, legislatures make the law (statutes) and courts interpret the law (cases).
Most state statutes are organized by subject matter and published in books referred to as codes. Typically, a state has a family or civil code (where the divorce laws are usually contained), a criminal code (where incest, bigamy and domestic violence laws are often found), welfare code (which contains laws related to public benefits), probate code (where laws about wills, trusts and probate proceedings are collected) and many other codes dealing with a wide variety of topics. Federal statutes are organized into subject matter titles within the United States Code (for example, Title 18 for crimes and Title 11 for bankruptcy).
In our next E-Legal Lesson we will describe several kinds of statutes, e.g. private/public, temporary/perpetual, personal/real.