The course examines how family law disputes are resolved under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). It also examines the social and political context of family law, critically examining the values that inform it. As it is not possible to cover all of the legal rules under the Family Law Act in one semester, this course will provide an in-depth and integrated understanding of the legal principles and skills that are central to ‘bread and butter’ family law practice. The course is structured such that the student will gain knowledge of, and the ability to apply, the key legal principles in the first 8 weeks of the course. In the latter part of the course, the course will critically examine a selected family law topic in more depth.
The course is of general use to all law students because family law touches the lives of many Australians, both directly and indirectly. This course would also be useful for anyone thinking of practising in the area of family law, or who might be interested in working in family law policy. As there will be opportunities in the second half of the semester to critically reflect on the social and other values underlying family law and its reform, the course may also appeal to the student who is interested in law reform and social justice issues.
“Lecture” style material will be provided in digital form.
During online seminars or asynchronous discussions, students will engage in interactive activities designed to support the intended learning outcomes of the course. This will include activities on group work, reflective practice and practical problem solving. Students will be free to view and listen to the digital lectures at the times that are most convenient to them.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate mastery of key principles of family law including an extended understanding of recent developments, and be able to cite the relevant legislative provisions and case law appropriately.
- Apply knowledge of family law creatively and with initiative to construct an accurate written advice that addresses a factually complex hypothetical family law problem, and present that advice to a specialist and non-specialist audience.
- Identify and use a range of legally-specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to respond to a factually complex family law problem.
- Synthesise complex information on key aspects of family law including recent developments, and selected secondary academic literature and theoretical writing about family law and its reforms.
- Critically evaluate perspectives and values that are relevant to family law and critically examine (in written and oral form) those perspectives and values.
- Acquire experience in collaborative learning and demonstrate personal and communication skills to function effectively in small groups.
- Plan and execute a substantial research project.
- Reflect coherently upon learning in the course, the student’s own values, the values underlying the family law system, and the differences between family law and practice in other legal areas, and comment on those differences at a theoretical level.
- The assessments include participation in online and interactive forum discussions on a range of family law topics relevant to legal research and professional legal practice. The forums promote a deeper understanding of the discretionary nature of family law and practice and the connections between family law and social science, and include qualitative feedback by the convenor on many posts to promote deeper appreciation of the law in context. (15) [LO 2,5,8]
- In addition, there are weekly short quizzes, designed to maintain focus on the readings and to facilitate incremental learning of course content. (36) [LO 1,4]
- An individual legal research paper with a letter of advice written to a client (based on the research paper) summarising the research and applied to the client's scenario (3,200 words). (25) [LO 1,3,4,5,7]
- A team-based, short research exercise on planning and preparing a submission on law reform to a Parliamentary Inquiry (2,000 words). (24) [LO 1,3,4,5,6,7]
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.
Workload10-12 hours per week during the semester online via Wattle
Requisite and Incompatibility
The prescribed texts for the course is:
- Parkinson, Patrick. Australian Family Law in Context: Commentary and Materials, Lawbook Company 7th ed, 2019. ISBN 9780455241234
Preliminary ReadingOther materials will be provided online and will include the materials identified within the topic areas above.
Assumed KnowledgeThis course is not available to students in the Graduate Certificate of Law, or any of the non-law masters programs
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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