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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.


Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50025 Torts
Semester 1
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1
LAWS50027 Dispute Resolution 12.5
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS90140 Disputes and Ethics
Semester 2
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2
LAWS50031 Legal Theory
Summer Term
Semester 2
LAWS50030 Property
Semester 1
LAWS50033 Equity and Trusts
Semester 2

LAWS50030 Property and LAWS50033 Trusts may be taken concurrently.



Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • Final three-hour exam held during the main examination period (100%).

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorRae Kaspiew
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours36 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

    Email: law-aso@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 4475
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

This subject has an enrolment quota of 60 students. Your subject enrolment will not be confirmed until the selection process has been run. Selection is conducted on a random basis with outcomes communicated to students shortly after re-enrolment closes. Please refer to the Melbourne Law School website for more information on the JD Quota Elective selection process.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Fehlberg, B, Kaspiew, R, Millbank, J, Kelly, F and Behrens, J, Australian Family Law: The Contemporary Context (2015, OUP, South Melbourne); and
    • Fehlberg, B, Kaspiew, R, Millbank, J, Kelly, F and Behrens, J, Australian Family Law: The Contemporary Context - Teaching Materials (2015, OUP, South Melbourne).
  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 11 September 2019