LAW 2512 - Family Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

The law of marriage, de facto relationships and divorce. The protection of children under the Family Law Act including parentage, parental responsibility, custody, and access. Matrimonial and defacto property rights, binding financial agreements, and spousal maintenance. Legal ethics in the practice of family law.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2512
    Course Family Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2015
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 1506
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The law of marriage, de facto relationships and divorce. The protection of children under the Family Law Act including parentage, parental responsibility, custody, and access. Matrimonial and defacto property rights, binding financial agreements, and spousal maintenance. Legal ethics in the practice of family law.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Kerry Antoniou

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Lectures are scheduled throughout the semester on Tuesday at 9.10am - 10.00am in Barr Smith South 3022 Polygon Lecture Theatre, and Friday at 9.10am - 10.00am in Medical School North N103 Florey Lecture Theatre.
    Lectures will be recorded.

    Seminars will be conducted weekly. The course planner can be consulted to confirm all class times.
    The first seminar will commence in semester week 2 and the last seminar will conclude in week 12.
    Please note that there will be no seminars in the week beginning 27 April 2017 (semester week 7) due to the public holiday in that week. This is to avoid disadvantaging students who have a seminar on the public holiday.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

          1. Develop an understanding of the legal and procedural structure of the family law system. 
          2. Apply the primary principles and policies that underpin the application of family law.
          3. Be able to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise materials so as to undertake advanced legal research.
          4. Undertake analysis of complex legal problems.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    1. Lecture outlines, seminar topics, and supplementary materials will be available on Canvas.
    2. The Family Law Act (Cth) 1975 is available on-line (  It is a voluminous Act and will be referred to throughout the course. Students may find it more convenient if they have a bound printed copy. The latest consolidated version is published by CCH (34th edition, 2016) and will be available for purchase directly from CCH (  Copies of the Family Law Act can also be purchased from the Service SA Government Legislation Outlet, EDS Centre, 108 North Terrace, Adelaide (opposite the Adelaide Convention Centre) (tel: 13 23 24).
    Recommended Resources
    1. Anthony Dickey, Family Law (6th edition, Thomson Reuters 2014) will be available from on campus Co-op bookstore or from publisher Thomson's as either a printed text or an ebook.
    2. M Livermore, The Family Law Handbook (3rd edition, Lawbook 2013).
    3. E Mills & Marlene Ebejer, Focus Family Law (5th edition, LexisNexis 2012).
    Online Learning
    Canvas will be used to post announcements, course materials and announce assignment tasks.

    Students are expected to check Canvas regularly to keep up to date with these materials and any additional learning resources throughout the course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be taught through lectures supported by interactive problem-solving seminars and practical exercises.

    The lectures are designed to provide an overview of the primary areas of family law (covering marriage, defacto relationships, divorce and nullity, children's issues, property settlement, spousal maintenance and binding financial agreements) and will provide an introduction to the material to be covered in seminars.
    Lectures will be recorded.

    The seminars commence in semester week 2. Each seminar will be organised around a fact problem and/or discussion topics.
    The seminars are intended to develop analytical problem solving skills, and an awareness of the ethical, social, and cultural issues that arise in family law matters while developing both oral and written communication skills. Students will be encouraged to actively participate in the seminar discussions.
    Seminar attendance is not compulsory, but the seminars are an integral component of learning in this course and attendance is strongly recommended.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact time: Attend 2 hours of lectures plus a 1 hour seminar each week. This amounts to a minimum of 33 hours of formal class time across the semester.

    Preparation time: In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary




    Week 1

    Introduction & Jurisdiction of the Family Law Courts

    No Seminar

    Week 2

    Marriage | Defacto Relationship

    Ethics in Family Law

    Week 3

    Married Couples: Divorce and Nullity | Terminating a Defacto Relationship

    Marriage | Defacto Relationship

    Week 4

    Children's Issues

    Divorce | Nullity | Terminating a Defacto Relationship

    Week 5

    Children's Issues

    Children: General Introduction

    Week 6

    Children's Issues

    Children: Parenting Orders

    Week 7

    Children's Issues | Introduction to Property Settlement

    No Seminar

    Week 8

    Preliminary Issues in Property Settlement

    Children: Parenting Orders

    Week 9

    Property Settlement

    Preliminary Issues in Property Settlement

    Week 10

    Property Settlement

    Matrimonial Property Settlement

    Week 11

    Financial Agreements | Superannuation

    Defacto Property Settlement

    Week 12

    Tax implications in Property Settlements | General Court Procedure

    General problem taking into account any of the course material

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Item % of final mark Due date
    Length Group or individual assessment Redeemable Learning Outcomes
    Research Paper 30%  Topics available Week 1

    Due: Friday 28 April 2017 by 2pm
    1,500 words
      Individual   No 1- 3
    Examination 70% Exam Period 2 hours duration (+ 10 minutes reading time)   Individual    No 1- 4
    Assessment Related Requirements
    The research essay is compulsory and not redeemable by the examination.
    Assessment Detail
    Research Paper
    An compulsory research essay weighted at 30% of the final course mark and not redeemable by the final examination.
    Details of the essay topics will be posted on Canvas during the second week of the semester.
    The essays will be assessed based on the quality and comprehensiveness of research; the quality of demonstrated understanding of the relevant principles and concepts; the construction of a concise and coherent presentation; a well balanced presentation of the relevant issues; and the development of a critical and evaluative perspective

    DUE DATE:  Friday 28 April 2017 by 2.00pm

    The examination will consist of three questions only two of which must be answered and all are of equal weighting.
    Two of the questions will be problem style and the third will be an essay. The essay question will have an internal option of a choice of two topics, only one of which may be answered.
    The examination is weighted at 70% of the final course mark.
    The exam will be of 2 hours duration (+ 10 minutes reading time).

    Students may take into the examination any written materials excluding items borrowed from a University Library.

    It is each student's responsibility to read the examination timetable. Misreading the timetable is not accepted as grounds for granting a supplementary exam. University staff are not permitted to provide examination times to students over the telephone or in response to personal enquiries.

    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    All assignments in this course are to be submitted electronically through Turnitin. 

    All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made electronically and submitted to the Course Coordinator according to law school policy. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not unexpected circumstances.


    1. Late Submission: Submission penalties of 5% (of the total mark of the assignment) each day (or part thereof) will be deducted for late submission (including weekends and public holidays), (ie, an essay graded 63% will have 5 % deducted if it is one day late, for a final mark of 58%, 10% if it is two days, etc).
    2. Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks available per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 1500, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 1501 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 1601 words long, etc). Words are calculated excluding all referencing footnotes and headings within the text and excluding cover page information.
    Turnaround time: The research paper will be returned to students within 4 weeks of the submission date with written individual feedback.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible  moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment  results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is  required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Acess Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support

    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    the centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at  

    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

    Counselling Service

    The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available at

  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.

  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.