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School of Law

Family law

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

The main emphasis is on family law in England and Wales. It provides students with a knowledge of private and public law relating to the family and to family breakdown, domestic violence, the law of family financial provision, children and advances in fertilisation.

The scope of the course includes, the family and legal system; sources of the law of the family in the legal systems of selected countries: Africa or Asia including diasporic minority ethnic and religious communities communities in England and Wales. The nature and the different forms of marriages: formation of a valid marriage; the effect of a valid marriage on the status of the parties and on property; dissolution of marriage. The law relating to parent and child: including guardianship, adoption and affiliation. Where appropriate, the received laws, local statutory laws, religious and customary laws in the field of marriage and domestic relations, their comparison and interaction will be studied. The course includes the law of family property and succession and both the traditional and modern law will be studied.

The course aims to give students the opportunity to develop their research skills and to foster independent and critical thought in relation to family law reform. The course is taught in two parts comprising of ‘Adult Relationships’ and ‘Children and the Law’.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • Provide grounding in family law in England and Wales;
  • The student will understand the marriage law including nullity, divorce and post-divorce property settlement. The student will also understand how law treats those who are unmarried and those who are in registered civil partnerships;
  • The student will become aware of issues pertaining to violence within the home and family from the perspective of both adults and children. The course will also facilitate an understanding of the multiple ways in which reproductive technologies have changed our understanding of who is a child's parents. Similarly the relationships, obligations and responsibilities between parents and children. The State's duty to protect the rights of children will also be a focus;
  • The course aims to help the student to interrogate the concept of "family" from legal, religious and cultural perspectives.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 20% (2000 words)
  • Unseen written exam; 80%

Suggested reading

  • A. Bainham and S. Gilmore, Children: The Modern Law (Jordan, 2013)
  • B. Gilmore and L. Glennon Hayes and Williams Family law Principles, Policy and Practice (OUP, 2014)
  • J. Herring Family Law (Longman, 2013)
  • J. Herring, R. Probert and S, Gilmore Great Debates in Family Law (Palgrave MacMillan 2015)
  • S. Harris-Short and J. Miles Family Law: Text, Cases and Materials (OUP, 2014)