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LAWS311 Family Law

Law and procedures concerning the formation and breakdown of family relationships, and the relationship between family and state. Legal recognition of theories of human relationships.

Family law is a central part of the general practice of law. All lawyers should have a general knowledge of family law, both for their professional and personal life. There are also a growing number of lawyers who become specialists in family law.

The paper is taught at two levels - a practical analysis through the completion of a family file for a client and a policy analysis of family law in New Zealand. There is analysis of and practice at the processes and procedures of family law. There is also detailed analysis of and practice at the main areas of family law - day-to-day care and contact, guardianship, marriage, civil unions, same-sex relationships, separation, dissolution, violence in the home, maintenance, child support, relationship property, child abuse, property and welfare of incompetent persons, adoption and assisted reproduction issues.

A number of perspectives on family law are explored - including children's rights, feminist points of view, Māori aspirations, cultural differences, Christian perspectives, fathers' rights and social science insights.

Paper title Family Law
Paper code LAWS311
Subject Law
EFTS 0.2000
Points 30 points
Teaching period Full Year
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,292.40
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,712.00

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96 LAWS points
Pre or Corequisite
Any 200-level LAWS paper not already passed
LAWS 411, LAWS 511
Limited to
Not all optional papers will be available in any given year.
Teaching staff
Professor Mark Henaghan, Dean, Faculty of Law
Teaching Arrangements
Professor Henaghan teaches this paper.
All course materials are provided.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
The goal of the paper is that by the end students should be able to handle complex family law problems on behalf of a client in a confident and effective manner. They should also be able to understand and analyse the policy choices on which family law has been built.

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
M1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41