The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020
Course code



10 units


5000 level

Course handbook


This course will introduce students to the law regulating family relationships within formal marriage and de facto relationships where governed by Commonwealth law. The course takes a law in context approach, examining key aspects of family law in Australia in their social and political context. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of existing law and the effect of law reform. It supports the development of knowledge relevant to practice in family law. Topics covered include the legal regulation of families; forms of family dispute resolution; violence within families and responses to violence; parental responsibility and decisions in relation to children following separation; the best interests of children and children's rights; child support, spousal maintenance, and property division on separation; role of family lawyers; and law reform.

Availability2019 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 2 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical and contextual understanding of family law, including underlying principles and concepts, in the context of problem scenarios and law reform questions.

2. Demonstrate the ability to identify legal and non-legal issues in law problem scenarios by applying legal reasoning and research skills to generate appropriate responses across a range of dispute resolution alternatives.

3. Demonstrate awareness of the distinctiveness of the family lawyers' professional and ethical role, taking account of the need to develop and apply superior oral and written communication skills with clients in the context of legal proceedings that often have a profoundly emotional dimension.

4. Demonstrate ability to evaluate critically the impact of family law and law reform in the contemporary national and international context and ability to contribute constructively to law reform in this area.

5. Demonstrate understanding of the importance in family law of communication and teamwork skills and the ability to apply these skills to collaborative work with clients, legal and non-legal professionals


The course will include the following topics:

  1. The constitutional framework of family law and jurisdiction of courts dealing with family law
  2. Marriage, de facto relationships, nullity, divorce and separation
  3. Forms of family dispute resolution
  4. Family violence
  5. Parental responsibility; decision making about children; children's rights and best interests.
  6. Property: the meaning of property and financial resources and alteration of property interests under the FLA;
  7. Professional practice, roles and ethics of family lawyers
  8. Family Law Procedure including less adversarial trials
  9. Law reform in family law and the relevance of interdisciplinary knowledge and research.


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed knowledge

LAWS1010, LAWS1011, LAWS1020, LAWS1021, LAWS2030, LAWS3040, LAWS3041, and LAWS4011.

Assessment items

Participation: Seminar Participation

Presentation: Group Case Probe

Formal Examination: End of Semester Examination

In Term Test: In term Exam

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct

Online Activity

Self-Directed 1 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term