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  3. Comparative Family Law

Comparative Family Law (LAWS90156)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90156
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

In an increasingly globalised world, it is no longer enough for lawyers to be familiar with only the law in their jurisdiction. This subject aims to develop a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of family law issues arising in many jurisdictions around the world, grounded in an Australian perspective. Based on a subject taught at the University of Cambridge, core areas of family law will be looked at in a comparative perspective that examines traditional statutory and judicial materials in the context of the specific legal, cultural and social traditions of each jurisdiction. Through this approach, the subject aims to encourage fresh insights on how we think about family law (including options for reform) as it operates in our ‘home’ jurisdictions, and to deepen our understanding, appreciation and working knowledge of family law as it operates elsewhere. The subject aims to leave students – including those not intending to practice in family law – better placed to identify relevant family law problems arising in national and international cases.

Principal topics include:

  • What is Comparative Family Law?
  • The relevance of gender in family law (particularly in relation to relationship recognition)
  • Divorce
  • Legal recognition of adult relationships (including married, de facto and non-cohabiting couples; carers; non-conjugal relationships)
  • Property and maintenance on relationship separation
  • Financial agreements and private autonomy
  • Parentage and the right to know one’s genetic heritage (including questions of medically assisted reproduction)
  • Parental responsibility/time.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the way several core areas of family law are approached in selected jurisdictions, including recent developments globally in those key areas
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the underlying social issues and the policies underlying and informing legal rules and law reform in those selected jurisdictions
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues arising in the field in jurisdictions around the world, including in the areas of relationship recognition, legal gender, financial settlements and parenting arrangements after couple relationship separation, and parentage
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of approaches taken in the selected jurisdictions, based on the respective legal, cultural and social environments in which they have developed.

Last updated: 20 July 2019