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Australian National University

  • Code LEGW8107
  • Unit Value 3 units
  • Offered by Legal Workshop
  • Offered in Autumn Session 2014
    Spring Session 2014
    Winter Session 2014
  • Course subject Legal Practice
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career Graduate
  • Course convener
    • Miss Eileen Webb
    • Ms Elizabeth Keogh
  • Mode of delivery Online

The Family Law Practice course is delivered by experienced teachers who are practicing family lawyers. The course aims to prepare law graduates to practice in family law to an entry level practice standard. The course stresses the crucial importance of familiarity with the Family Law Act, Family Law Rules, the Federal Magistrates Act and the Federal Magistrates Court Rules, as well as client care, dispute resolution, advocacy, practicality, cost containment and ethical considerations.

The course aims to:

  • help students gain a general level of familiarity with the processes, pace and demands of family law practice
  • develop the knowledge and skills necessary to act in family law matters such as: parenting, child support, property, spouse maintenance, divorce and restraining orders.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:


  • Identify the client's needs and concerns including what the client wants to achieve.
  • From the client's instructions, attempt to identify the needs and concerns of the other party/ies and what the other party/ies want to achieve and identify how this may be relevant to the client. 
  • Use tools, such as a working chronology and preparation notes, to distil the facts as given by the client and to identify areas of agreement, dispute, and matters which may require clarification or substantiation.
  • Identify, and undertake systematic and thorough research, in relation to legal issues involved in the client's case. Take into account issues likely to be raised by the other party/ies. Document relevant issues and research in preparation notes.
  • Apply the law to the facts to assess the client's prospects of success including the range of likely outcomes. The latter should take into account the range of possible legal arguments and ways that disputed facts may be assessed. 
  • Identify other factors which may be relevant to the particular client e.g. caring and other personal relationships, stress, safety, cost, timeliness.
  • Assess the appropriateness of the range of dispute resolution options / methods, at all stages of the matter.
  • Assess the appropriateness of referrals and/or use of other services or experts by the client, the other party/ies and /or the family.


  • Give accurate, transparent and well structured legal advice in family law matters applying good communication style (sequence, clarity, tone, plain English).
  • Address all relevant issues, including the range of likely outcomes, the client's particular needs and concerns, dispute resolution options and legal requirements (e.g. pre-action procedures).

Commence proceedings

  • Commence and respond to proceedings in compliance with the Rules taking into account jurisdictional issues, cost containment, and timeliness.

Draft applications

  • Draft well framed applications in accordance with the client's instructions taking into account the law, procedure, practicality, enforceability and good drafting style (sequence, setting out, clarity, plain English).
  • Formulate interim and final applications taking into account the context including lapse of time between interim and final hearing.

Draft affidavits

  • Draft affidavits in chief and in reply to achieve clear and effective presentation of the client's evidence.
  • Take into account the law, Rules, considerations of relevance, weight, and admissibility, in structuring and presenting the client's evidence, including evidence in reply.

Represent in court

  • Apply tactical skills in relation to amendment of the client's application before hearing taking into account relevant factors including effective presentation of the client's case and containing costs.
  • Represent a client in court in interim defended proceedings including presenting the client's case in accordance with the client's instructions and in the light of the law, procedure, effective advocacy and professional standards.
  • Make submissions which address the totality of the evidence, not only the evidence presented by your client.

Professional role

  • Identify, analyse and take appropriate action in the light of ethical, professional and personal dilemmas in family law matters. 

Professional awareness

  • Analyse and critique your performance and that of others as a key tool in developing your family law practice knowledge and skills.
  • Consider the social and legal context of family law practice and the roles and responsibilities of family lawyers.  
  • Consider the roles of family lawyers and others in bringing about changes to family law and procedure and consider the roles you might play in legal practice.

Indicative Assessment

The assessable work is designed to intensify student learning and it mainly focuses on going through the steps of preparing and appearing on a defended family law application.

The assessable items are the quality of: court documents application, response and affidavits (40%); preparation and court appearance notes (10%) legal advice (20%); representation of the client on the defended hearing (30%). The first three elements are marked on the highest standard achieved in two rounds (round 1: acting for the applicant and round 2: acting for the respondent). Passing the course is conditional on students completing all assessable tasks.


There are no set contact hours.  Students should expect to spend about 10 - 15 hours per week in reading and course related tasks to complete the course.  

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed texts are available online and are advised to students through the course website in WATTLE.

Indicative Reading List

The reading list includes sections of the Family Law Act, Family Law Rules, the Federal Magistrates Court Rules and Family Law Practice Commentary.

Assumed Knowledge

The course is designed for law graduates intending to proceed into legal practice. Previous study or knowledge of family law is not required.

Other Information

When Offered and Delivery Mode:  This online eight week course is offered three times a year in the second, third and fourth teaching periods.

Classification in Graduate Studies Select:  Specialist. In addition an elective in the GDLP program, can be used as part of the articulation into the LLM and LLM (in practice) programs.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  Tuition fees will be published by 1 October for the next year.

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 3
Unit value:
3 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

3.00 0.06250

Course Fees:

Domestic fee paying students

Year Commencing Fee
1994-2003 $663
2004 $663
2005 $663
2006 $663
2007 $663
2008 $663
2009 $663
2010 $726
2011 $864
2012 $990
2013 $990
2014 $993

International fee paying students

Year Commencing Fee
1994-2003 $852
2004 $852
2005 $852
2006 $852
2007 $852
2008 $852
2009 $852
2010 $906
2011 $1212
2012 $1236
2013 $1296
2014 $1299


Autumn Session, 2014

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date
4315 31 Mar 2014 04 Apr 2014 11 Apr 2014 23 May 2014

Winter Session, 2014

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date
5566 07 Jul 2014 11 Jul 2014 18 Jul 2014 29 Aug 2014

Spring Session, 2014

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date
8315 15 Sep 2014 19 Sep 2014 26 Sep 2014 07 Nov 2014

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions