LAWGENRL 433 - Family Law

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Professor Mark Henaghan
Prerequisites: LAW 211
Restrictions: LAW 426, LAWGENRL 402

Course description

Family law is about the legal formation of family relationships, the resolution of family disputes and the influence of public policy on family affairs. The course covers the non-financial aspects of family law. In particular, this course will explore how the family justice system attempts to resolve parenting and relationship disputes. The focus of the course is on the theory and practice of family law in New Zealand. Family law is a major area of legal practice. A key outcome of this course is the appreciation of the challenges that arise for parents and children in family law disputes.

Content outline

The course covers the following topics:

Law of Marriage and Dissolution

Legal definition of marriage, civil unions and de facto relationships; New Zealand families; dissolution; domestic violence.

Family Justice System

Family Court of New Zealand; family dispute resolution; paramountcy principle.

Child Law

Adoption law; surrogacy law; child welfare; mature minor doctrine.

Parenting Disputes

Day-to-day care and contact; overseas relocation of children; international child abduction.


1500 word assignment (20%)

2 hour open-book exam (80%)

Open book means that you may, if you wish, bring into the exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Recommended text

The principal study resource for this course is the casebook. There is no prescribed textbook for family law, but these textbooks are recommended:

Mark Henaghan et al Family Law in New Zealand  (18th ed, LexisNexis, Wellington, 2017).

Mark Henaghan and Bill Atkin (eds) Family Law Policy in New Zealand  (4th ed, LexisNexis, Wellington, 2013).