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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3020: Family Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (12 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Leanne Smith (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


Family law is an exciting and topical module which explores how the law and family justice system operate to regulate both adult relationships and relationships between parents and children. Within the module, you will consider who the law regards as a parent and how post-separation parenting disputes are resolved, as well as how the state intervenes in family life to attempt to protect children in dangerous families. You will consider the legal consequences of marriage, civil partnership and cohabiting relationships, exploring such topical issues as the use of pre-nuptial agreements; the adequacy of remedies for domestic violence and the protection afforded to cohabiting relationships.


You will explore recent radical changes in the Family Justice system, including withdrawal of legal aid from private family law court disputes, shifts towards alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation and collaborative law, and efforts to promote shared parenting after separation.


By analysing the legal and policy framework for family law in the context of the changing ways that people partner and parent, you will engage in an assessment of the effectiveness of the current family justice system and of the legal definition of family in the 21st century, as well as debating proposals for reform of the law. You will also explore relevant socio- legal research in this area and consider its importance to the development of family law in the 21st century. Members of the team that will teach you are actively engaged in research which has been used by family law policy makers and links to family law practice. Additionally, members of the teaching team either practise as and/or engage regularly with family practitioners and will share their insights from doing so. In most years you will have the opportunity to participate in events with visiting speakers, such as senior judges.


Legal Foundations LAW1036 is a Pre-Requisite for this module. Subject to this, students from other Units may take the module.

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