|Delivery Type||Delivery length / details|
|Lecture||Two one hour lectures per week (part of 30hrs allocation)|
|Lecture||One two hours lecture per week (part of 30hrs allocation)|
|Seminars / Tutorials||6 Hours. Three two hour seminars|
|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Assessment||Essay: Assessed Essay of 1000 words (required in week 9).||33%|
|Semester Exam||1.5 Hours Unmarked copies of Blackstone's Family Law Statutes may be referred to in the examination.||67%|
|Supplementary Assessment||Essay: Assessed Essay of 1000 words - if essay element failed||33%|
|Supplementary Exam||1.5 Hours If exam element failed||67%|
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
To provide students with a clear knowledge of the law as it relates to the family and enhance their problem solving and argumentation skills.
To critically consider the working of the existing law and identify its shortcomings.
To consider proposals for reform put forward by government policy initiatives, pressure groups, the Law Commissions of England and Wales, and of Scotland, and academic writers.
To consider the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties and conventions on the legal regulation of families in England and Wales.
To consider the impact of moral and ethical considerations on the law as it relates to family definition, parents and children
To develop critical and analytical skills alongside independent research and reflection skills.
The Family and Child Law Module examines how the family is defined in law and explores how issues which arise between members of the family unit, (both adults and children), are regulated by law. The course is designed to provide an insight into the legal intervention into different types of family structures and the impact of government policy. What is the purpose of legal intervention? Is it to maintain the family unit, whatever that may be? Or is to protect the individual members of the family? How does the law regulate marriage and divorce? How are property disputes regulated in married and unmarried relationships? What are the family law issues involved in domestic violence? What are the prospects of success of the new Family Law Act 1996 which introduces mediated divorce and reforms the law relating to domestic violence? Is domestic violence a private law issue or should the state use criminal law sanctions to protect victims? What about the Protection from Harassment Act 1997? Why are the Child Support Acts 1991 & 1995 controversial? Should the state intervene in this area traditionally governed by Private Family Law?
In recent times children have begun to emerge from the family as people worthy of legal consideration in their own right. While it is inevitable that we consider the legal position of children within a stable, traditional family, we will not be limited by those circumstances. The legal issues surrounding parentage, including children born as a result of infertility treatment will be addressed. Children in the homes of unmarried couples (whether homosexual or heterosexual) and single persons (whether divorced, separated, or never having cohabited) will be discussed. We will also deal with adoption as a method of creating a family tie (and destroying another). Our concern will be to identify and analyse the legal rights and responsibilities of children and their carers in these contexts. In that respect we will consider the different attitude that the law adopts to different kinds of children: both unremarkable ('normal') children and those displaying special characteristics (particularly physical and mental disabilities).
We will consider the extent to which the state does, and should, disrupt the family lives of children by taking responsibility for their care or upbringing. Local authority protection for children who are being abused will be covered. We will also consider the role of the state in educating children. Students should be aware that case law and articles concerning child abuse may be distressing to the reader.
By the end of the course students will have a working knowledge of a range of issues that concern lawyers dealing with matters relating to children and adults in family relationships. Students will have had an opportunity to exercise their critical faculties in an area of law that is interesting and exciting. They should also gain an insight into the role of socio-legal research in influencing family policy and law.
The definition of the family:
* traditional family
* cultural diversity
* single sex relationships
* lone parents
* the extended family
The role of Family Law in family life
* to preserve the family unit
* to protect the individual
* to relieve the State of responsibility for child rearing
* to provide welfare support for family members
* to provide a procedure for settling disputes
* to promote optimum family structures?
2. The legal nature of marriage and divorce
* legal pre-requisites of marriage
* legal consequences of marriage
* relationship of husband and wife
* the right to marry and the ECHR
* children of a married couple
* financial consequences of marriage
* property implications of marriage
* criminal law and the law of evidence
* divorce and separation: a need for reform?
* should marriage be more like cohabitation?
* Mediate or litigate?
* legal consequences
* property and cohabitation
* financial implications
* ending the relationship
* should cohabitation be more like marriage?
4. Child Law
* Childhood and the law
* Background to the current law
* Some new ideas and concepts
* Some general principles
5. Legal parentage
* Introduction: becoming a parent in law
* Common law presumptions
* Infertility and parenthood
* The significance of parenthood
6. Parental Responsibility
* Defining parental responsibility
* Acquiring and losing parental responsibility
* Section 8 orders and the welfare principle
7. Financial and property matters
* who owns what during the relationships?
* what happens upon separation?
* is the married person "better off"?
* is adequate attention paid to the interests of children?
* implications of benefits system
* The Child Support Act 1991 : Children or Treasury first?
8. Domestic violence
* causes of domestic violence
* review of the law as it applies to married couple and to cohabitants
* is the response of the law adequate?
* what role should the police and the criminal justice system play in domestic violence?
* comparison with law and procedure in other jurisdictions
* recent reforms
9. Children and the Protective Role of the State
* Child abuse as a crime
* Local authority support for children and their families
* Care and supervision proceedings
* Emergency intervention to protect children
* The courts and local authority care plans
* Wardship and the inherent jurisdiction of the high court
10. Children and Education
* Parental choice and the rights of children
* Compelling children: attendance and discipline
* The national curriculum
Reading ListGeneral Text
Students will be advised of the most recent edition of texts during the first lecture Recommended Text
Cretney & Masson (2008) Principles of Family Law 8th ed. Sweet & Maxwell Primo search Hale, Pearl, Cooke & Monk (2008) The Family Law & Society 6th ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Heming Family Law Primo search Blackstone's Family Law Statutes Primo search Supplementary Text
Bainham, Andrew (2005) Children: The Modern Law 3rd ed. Family Law Primo search Barlow, Anne (2001) Cohabitants and the Law 4th ed. Tottel Primo search Barlow, Anne (1991) The Children Act 1989: The Private Law Fourmat Publishing Primo search Barton and Douglas (1995) Law and Parenthood Butterworths Primo search Cretney, SM (1992) Elements of Family Law 2nd ed. Sweet & Maxwell Primo search Dewar, John (1989) Law and the Family Butterworths Primo search Diduck & Kaganas (2006) Family Law, Gender & the State 2nd ed. Hart Publishing Primo search Lyon & de Cruz (2003) Child Abuse 3rd ed. Family Law Primo search Standley, Kate (1997) Cases & Materials on Family Law Oxford University Press Primo search Williams The Children Act 1989: The Public Law Primo search Consult For Futher Information
Child and Family Law Quarterly Primo search Childright Primo search Family Law Primo search New Law Journal Primo search The Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law Primo search The Law Society Gazette Primo search Family Court Reports Primo search Family Law Reports Primo search Essential Reading
Adoption & Children Act 2002 Primo search Adoption Act 1976 Primo search Care Standards Act 2000 Primo search The Child Support Act 1991 (as amended) Primo search The Children Act 1989 (as amended) Primo search The Family Law Act 1996 Primo search The Matrimonal Causes Act 1973 (as amended) Primo search
This module is at CQFW Level 6