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Family Law (LAWS50047)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50047
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject aims to encourage a broad and sophisticated understanding of, and critical thinking about, contemporary Australian family law, by drawing on recent debate, research, and legal and policy developments in the area, focusing on parenting and financial disputes on relationship breakdown. A key goal is to consider legislation and case law in the context of empirical and other research literature from Australia and overseas to explore law in action.

This is a particularly important goal given the importance of social sciences knowledge and professional skill in family law practice, research, policy and reform. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss and explore significant policy debates and stakeholder perspectives.

Family law is a rapidly changing area of law. Specific areas of emphasis throughout the subject will be influenced by contemporary developments. However, in broad terms the topics covered will include:

  • Relationship recognition and flow-on impacts of this in family law; Post-separation parenting law and process;
  • family violence and family law: the relevance of family violence to both process and the substantive law (parenting and financial disputes);
  • child support;
  • property division on marriage and de facto relationship breakdown; and
  • spouse/partner maintenance.

Classes will include input from speakers invited to discuss with us their work in areas directly relevant to the material covered.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the subject, students will have:

  • An advanced and integrated understanding of the complex legal framework and processes and professional skills now relevant to determining post-separation rights and responsibilities of family members in Australia on relationship breakdown;
  • a sophisticated appreciation of the relevance and contribution of social sciences knowledge to family law practice, research and reform;
  • a sophisticated appreciation of, and ability to engage in, the complex policy debates taking place in Australia and internationally in relation to family law and policy, particularly regarding parenting and financial disputes on relationship breakdown;
  • a nuanced understanding of the differences that may exist between family law ‘in books’ (that is, in legislation and case law) and family law ‘in action’ (that is, as it is practiced and as it is experienced by family members); and
  • a capacity to critically and independently analyse, reflect on and evaluate recent family law reform initiatives and proposals.


Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students will have developed the specialist skills required to independently synthesise, analyse, apply (to advise a hypothetical client) and critically reflect on and evaluate the complex web of legislation, case law, research, policy positions and reform initiatives relevant to understanding key issues arising in Australian family law and practice, focusing on post-separation parenting and financial disputes.

Students who successfully complete this subject will also have developed and demonstrated intercultural sensitivity and understanding, as well as sensitivity and understanding of issues confronting families affected by violence.


Last updated: 11 September 2019