LAW 2512 - Family Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

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: Dr James Stewart

    Course Timetable

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

    There are two lectures per week. All lectures will be recorded.

    Seminars will be conducted weekly. There will NOT be a seminar in Week One.

  • 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 slides, seminar questions, and supplementary materials will be available on MyUni.
    2. The Family Law Act (Cth) 1975 is available online; 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. You can access the Act and order your copy here.
    Recommended Resources
    Belinda Fehlberg et al, Australian Family Law (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2015) is available at the Co Op both on campus and online.
    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
    Course Structure and Outline
    The seminar problem questions and discussion will be based on the preceding week's topic.

    Week 1
    Introduction to Family Law Course and the History of the Family Law Act

    Week 2
    Marriage and De Facto Relationships

    Week 3
    Divorce, Nullity, and Terminating De Facto Relationships

    Week 4
    An Introduction to Children's Issues

    Week 5
    Parenting Orders

    Week 6
    No Lectures or Seminars due to Easter Long Weekend and assignment due on the 6th

    Week 7
    Child Support

    Week 8
    International Regulation

    Week 9
    Property Settlement

    Week 10
    Property Interests I

    Week 11
    Property Interests II

    Week 12
    Financial Agreements, Superannuation, and Costs

    Week 13
    Examination Revision

  • 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 Task Weighting Task Type Due Length Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Research Paper 30% Individual

    Friday April 6th at 2pm 

    1,500 words
    No 1-3
    Examination 70% Individual Exam Period 2 hours duration (+ 10 minutes reading time) No 1-4
    Assessment Related Requirements
    The research essay is compulsory and not redeemable by the examination.
    Assessment Detail
    Research Paper
    A 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 6th  April 2018 at 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.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    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 Access 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.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

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

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia 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.