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

The law relating to cohabitation and marriage, the establishment of parenthood, and the relationship between parent and child. Study of the interrelationship between the state, the family and child protection and support.

Course overview

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 all aspects of family law. In particular, this course will explore how the family justice system resolves parenting, financial, violence in the home, property and relationship disputes. The course will develop both the practical and theoretical understanding of family law. The practical will be developed through a compulsory 70% assignment whereby each member of the class will act as a lawyer as well as a client in a family dispute that covers most aspects of the course. The course will also give you the opportunity to do an optional assignment that enables you to research, in some depth, a particular aspect of family law that you have an interest and a passion about. Family law is a major area of legal practice. A key outcome of this course is that by the end of it you will feel confident to be able to master the key skills of the family lawyer as well as understand the challenges and tensions that families face when they are in conflict.

Content Objectives

This course will provide a practical introduction to family law practice and provide an overview of how it all fits together. Family law is an extremely important specialist area of practice. Even if you do not wish to become a family lawyer, all lawyers are expected to have a working knowledge of issues such as dissolution, relationship property, day-to-day care and contact, domestic violence, removal of children into care, adoption, and assisted human reproduction.

There are two main objectives to the course:

• To develop the knowledge and skills necessary to practise family law. The practical nature of the course will not just provide you with the opportunity to sharpen your legal research skills, but will also help you develop additional skills such as dealing with people, making practical decisions on ethical issues, negotiating legal agreements, using court procedure, preparing agreements and court documents, and exercising judgement on the appropriate course of action. The overarching purpose of this exercise is to teach you how to use the law to reach the best outcome for your clients.

• To critically evaluate family law policy and to discuss ways of improving the law. Lawyers should be more than technicians who manipulate current legislation and rules in the best interests of their clients. Lawyers need to be able to look beyond the rules and put the law into a broader context. Lawyers not only practise the law, they are also often the guardians of the direction the law is taking. The law prioritises some interests over others. This prioritisation process is also open to being questioned. Critical reasoning and a sense of justice will be developed in the process of analysing current family law policy.


  • Online quiz (0%)
  • 5250 word family file (70%)
  • 1500 word optional assignment (20%)
  • 2 hour open-book exam (30% or 10%)