• Offered by ANU School of Legal Practice
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law, Legal Practice
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online

Family Law (Property) is designed to prepare students (including current practitioners) for running property cases involving trusts at a best-practice level.  There will be an assumed level of knowledge and the course will build on either LLB Family Law, JD Family Law or LLM Foundations of Family Law.   Many property disputes in family law for parties with moderate to substantial wealth or a family business will involve trusts.  Increasingly, self managed superannuation funds are being used by couples.  These are also based on a trust deed.  Thus the focus of this course is on an area of considerable complexity but which is increasingly part of the ‘bread and butter’ of family law property disputes and which can have significant financial consequences for the parties if not properly addressed.

Family Law jurisprudence empowers judges to ‘ignore’ many of the usual rules regarding the ‘corporate veil’ and trust organisation to re-allocate wealth.  However, the usual rules may still apply when considering the consequences of that reallocation (such as re-settling a trust or possible capital gains liability).  The High Court in two leading decisions of Ascot Investments v Harper and Spry v Kennon have created a range of categories and complexities within this area of law.  Spry is the author of the renowned text Equitable Remedies.

This course is intended to engage deeply with the role of trusts and will build an understanding of how they operate and the potential areas of risk for practitioners. It is not intended to cover the general principles regarding property and superannuation within family law nor analyse the ‘four steps’ approach usually taken in resolving property disputes.

The topics covered at this level will build on the undergraduate / JD / Foundations courses as it will introduce new material at a significantly more advanced and in-depth level.   

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of theoretical knowledge regarding the characterisation of trust related assets available for distribution in a family law property dispute.
  2. Demonstrate mastery of the theoretical framework within which trusts, and assets within trusts, are structured in particular family law contexts such as binding financial agreements and self managed superannuation funds.
  3. Understand accounting principles sufficiently to review financial statements and recognise unusual allocation of assets, liabilities and expenses.
  4. Understand and creatively use the tools available to identify, locate and either challenge or protect from challenge, assets within a trust structure.
  5. Use initiative and creativity to draft terms for a binding financial agreement or court orders that will address the challenges identified in the case law and legislation.
  6. Synthesise theoretical knowledge and analytical and forensic skills to gather and analyse evidence to enable the student to effectively advise the client how to deal with trust assets and the evidence about them.
  7. Design a comprehensive strategy to obtain evidence necessary to prove the existence and connection of trust assets to the marriage.
  8. Demonstrate mastery of the theoretical knowledge and practical application by drafting written submissions for use in a court proceeding in support of the strategy.
  9. Reflect critically on the implications for the knowledge and practical application in relation to trust assets for other areas of property relevant to a property dispute in family law. 10. Plan and execute a substantial research based project — whether by court application, written submission or advice to a client.

Indicative Assessment

  1. These assessment options are interchangeable. For each course offering assessment options will be chosen totaling 100%, with at least 50% comprised of research based assessment. (100) [LO null]
  2. Examples of possible assessment items includes: (null) [LO null]
  3. 1. Detailed research paper on relevant legal principles (3000 words / 40%) (40) [LO null]
  4. 2. Written advice to client summarising principles identified in the research paper and applied to a practical scenario (2000 words / 25%) (25) [LO null]
  5. 3. Prepare (possibly in groups of 2-4) a retainer letter to a forensic accountant setting out relevant questions and listing material that would be briefed (10%). (10) [LO null]
  6. 4. Prepare an advice to client setting out a proposed strategy for identifying and locating assets including consideration of admissibility of evidence obtained (3000 words /40%) (40) [LO null]
  7. 5. Complete a multi-component assignment for either the applicant or respondent (including preparing court documents, drafting affidavits and briefing documents for a court hearing) to apply for orders that the other party, or a third party, provide information as to the existence, location and value of relevant assets (up to 65%) (65) [LO null]
  8. 6. Conduct an oral application to the Court for orders to provide information regarding the existence, location and value of assets (25%). (25) [LO null]
  9. 7. Prepare a cross examination of an accountant based upon a forensic report as to the assets of a marriage. The examination preparation must include questions and sequencing of questions. (30%) (30) [LO null]
  10. 8. Prepare a written submission to the Court challenging the reliability of an accountant’s report (2000 words / 25%) (25) [LO null]
  11. 9. Substantial discussion postings (400-800 words / 10% each) (10) [LO null]
  12. 10. Participation in discussion forums (up to 15%) (15) [LO null]
  13. 11. Online quiz to test understanding of financial information (10-15%) (15) [LO null]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


10-12 hours per week during the semester online via Wattle.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws specialising in International Law (7300XSINTL), Master of Laws specialising in Law, Governance and Development (7300SLGD), Master of Laws specialising in Environmental Law (7300SEVNL), Master of Laws specialising in Government and Commercial Law (7300SGCL), Master of Laws specialising in International Security Law (7300SISL), Master of Laws in Migration (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Laws (Legal Practice) (7312XLLMLP), Master of Diplomacy/Master of Laws (7883SINTL), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), Master of International Law (7310XMINTL), Master of Environmental Law (7309XMENVL), Master of Law, Governance & Development (7317XMLGD), Master of International Security Law (7318XMISL), Master of Government and Commercial Law (7313XMGCL); OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Juris Doctor - online (MJDOL) and have completed LAWS8712 Australian Public Law & International Law B. Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

Materials will be provided online and will include the materials identified within the topic areas above.

Preliminary Reading

A Course Outline will be available prior to the commencement of the course.

Assumed Knowledge

It is expected that a student will have completed either an undergraduate or JD course in Family Law, or LAWS8581 Foundations of Family Law.  This course is only open to students who have completed a law degree (LLB or JD).


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 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.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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