Family Law (including relationships, children, property and finances)

Family law is a major area of legal practice and Auckland Law School has expert teaching in this field.

Students may choose to take part in the Family Law moot, also known as the Brian Shenkin Memorial Family Law moot, a limited-entry moot on a family law topic. Participants should have passed or be enrolled in LAWGENRL 402 or LAWGENRL 433 Family Law to participate in this moot.

Academic staff researchers and teachers

The following members of staff conduct teaching and research and may conduct postgraduate supervision in the areas of Family and Relationships Law.

Nikki Chamberlain | Lecturer
Email: n.chamberlain@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 923 1696
Field of research: Class actions and litigation funding, civil procedure, law of family property, privacy, defamation, intentional torts.

Mark Henaghan | Professor
Email: mark.henaghan@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 9235568
Field of research: All aspects of family law including dispute resolution in family law, meditation in family law, disputes over who children should live with and have contact with including relocation and alleged parental alienation, the significance and relevance of children’s views in legal proceedings about children’s welfare, the significance of allegations of violence in parental disputes over children, the importance and centrality of Maoritanga in disputes over children, the significance of culture in disputes over children, the significance of religion in disputes over children, the significance of gender politics in disputes over children, the use of warrants to remove children, international child abduction and solutions to it, the rights and duties of parents in relation to decisions about their children including medical decisions, education decisions, naming of the child decisions, decisions about religious choices, disputes over decisions before birth including use of sperm and ovum and use of embryos, legal recognition of marriage and living together, forced marriage, legal status of polyamorous families, the legal status of transsexual, transvestite, inter sex persons, protection of family members from violence and solutions to violence in families, distribution of finances when families separate including child support and partner maintenance, what counts and what counts for nothing or for very little in redistributing family finances and the gender consequences of the current law, all aspects of division of family property, children’s rights to family property, the state’s legal responsibilities in relation to abused, neglected and deprived children, the legal requirements and consequences of adoption, international adoption, surrogacy and international surrogacy, the legal consequences of foster care of children. All aspects of youth justice including young persons’ rights when being questioned, when arrested, when being charged with a serious offence, when before the Youth Court, when being sentenced for a serious offence, options the Youth Court has for young persons, what works and what doesn’t in enabling young people to move out of the justice system. Family violence offences in the criminal law including murder, manslaughter, strangulation, self defence and the potential for a partial defence to murder after suffering long term abuse. Human Genome Law including the use of saviour siblings, choosing embryos that do not have hereditary genetic conditions such as Huntington’s, screening of children for genetic conditions and the future potential of gene editing to improve health in families. Solutions to child and family poverty including recently passed child poverty legislation, the adequacy or not of state benefits, the adequacy or not of state housing for families. Access to law for families and the class and cost barriers to it including the adequacy or not of legal aid. Children’s rights including analysis of the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child’s right to express views on all matters that affect them, a child’s right to be free from discrimination and exploitation, a child’s right to vote, a child’s right to their identity and a child’s right for their interests to be primary when decisions are made about them. False convictions including false confessions, memory malleability, confirmation bias cognitive dissonance and eye witness testimony.

Courses available in Family and Relationships Law

Undergraduate courses


LAWGENRL 424 - Negotiation, Mediation and Dispute Resolution
LAWGENRL 429 - Law of Family Property
LAWGENRL 430 - Advanced Family Law
LAWGENRL 433 - Family Law
LAWGENRL 440 - Youth Justice

Postgraduate courses

LAWGENRL 713 - Selected Issues in Family Law

Examples of recent research supervision

  • Family Dispute Resolution: Is it really in Children's Welfare and Best Interests?
  • All is not Fair in Love and War: Addressing Income Inequality at the End of Relationships.
  • Setting Aside Contracting Out Agreements: Striking the Right Balance.
  • “Sharenting” - Eroding the Privacy Rights of Children?
  • The Dynastic Dilemma: An Analysis of the Law Commission’s Review of the Property Relationships Act 1976 and Accessing Dynastic Trust Property.