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Unit of study_

LAWS3432: Family Law

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Family Law deals with the core provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 governing parenting of children and the property of married couples and persons in a de facto relationship. It also has a focus on the intersection of domestic and family violence with family law issues. It emphasises the importance of understanding critical skills needed in the application of the law in this area. This course is essential for those interested in working in Family Law related disciplines either as a practitioner or in law reform. Family Law will focus on the following topics: constitutional and jurisdictional issues; marriage, divorce and de facto relationships; the resolution of disputes relating to children under the Family Law Act 1975; property division under the Family Law Act; child support and maintenance; family violence and the ethical practice of Family law.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS3432
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ghena Krayem,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Group work / presentation (30%)
Students present on an aspect of family law as a group
30% Ongoing 30 min presentation
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay Plan (10%)
Students plan the research essay to be submitted later in the semester
10% Week 04
Due date: 22 Aug 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 05 Sep 2023
500 words / 2 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Presentation Reflection (5%)
Students reflect on their contribution to the group presentation task.
5% Week 05
Due date: 01 Sep 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 15 Sep 2023
1000 words / 5 working days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Annotated Bibliography (15%)
Students prepare a bibliography for the research essay to be submitted late
15% Week 08
Due date: 21 Sep 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 05 Oct 2023
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Research essay (40%)
Written essay
40% Week 13
Due date: 02 Nov 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 23 Nov 2023
3500 words / 13 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Assessment summary

Group Work Presentation (30%): Students will form groups, of approx. five (5) members. Groups will prepare a presentation of up to 30 minutes on a topic related to Family Law, or analyse a problem question during one of the weekly seminars. The topics and problem questions will be listed on Canvas before the first class of the semester. As part of this assessment task, students will submit their slides for review. 

Presentation Reflection (5%): Students will document their contributions and learning from their involvement in the group presentation (1000 words). This assignment fosters self-awareness, and promotes understanding of individual roles within a team, and encourages students to appreciate the knowledge they've gained from their study of Family Law. The reflection is due one (1) week after completion of the presentation.  The task demonstrates the attainment of all Learning Outcomes 1, 3 & 4.

Essay Plan (10%): Students will complete a 500-word essay plan on a provided topic released on Canvas site on 4th August 2023 at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time) and due on 22nd August at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time).  The longer release period is given to allow students to manage their own time and other commitments. The task demonstrates the attainment of all Learning Outcomes 1, 3 & 4.

Annotated Bibliography (15%): Students will complete a 1000 words annotated bibliography due 21 September 2023 at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time). The longer release period is given to allow students to manage their own time and other commitments. The task demonstrates the attainment of all Learning Outcomes 1, 3 & 4.

Research essay (40%):  Students will complete a 3500 words written essay on a provided topic released on canvas site on 4th August 2023 at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time) and due on 2nd November 2023 at 5pm (Sydney, Australia time). The longer release period is given to allow students to manage their own time and other commitments. The task demonstrates attainment of all Learning Outcomes 1, 3 & 4.

Word limit penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment for every 100 words, or part thereof. The total word count for essay and other written assessments will exclude all footnotes and any bibliography (if required).

Use of editors or proof-readers: The use of assistance in preparing and editing assessment tasks in this unit of study is strictly prohibited. Assistance includes human and automated writing tools (not including spell checking).

Special consideration: Successful grants of Special Consideration may involve alternative tasks, as appropriate.

Assessment requirements to pass a unit of study: A student must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks set out in this Unit of Study in order to obtain a Pass mark and grade (or above); otherwise an Absent Fail grade will be recorded as the student’s result for this Unit of Study.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Contains striking originality of approach or analysis.
  • Demonstrates exhaustive or innovative research (where independent research required).
  • Exceptionally well written, structured and expressed.
  • Is otherwise exceptional in some way.


75 - 84

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Achieves a critical and evaluative approach to the issues.
  • Content and structure is well organised in support of the argument.
  • Demonstrates extensive research and analysis to support a well-documented argument.
  • Generally well expressed and free from errors.
  • Has a clear structure and is well articulated.


65 - 74

  • Covers main issues fairly well in answering the question.
  • Contains no significant errors.
  • Demonstrates an attempted critical approach to the issues.
  • Demonstrates reasonably sound research and analysis in addressing the key issues.
  • Has a clear structure and reasonably clear expression.


50 - 64

  • Identifies the key issues, but does not follow through with a reasoned argument.
  • Contains some significant errors.
  • Displays satisfactory engagement with the key issues.
  • Offers a descriptive summary of material relevant to the question.
  • Superficial use of material, and may display a tendency to paraphrase.
  • Demonstrates little evidence of in-depth research or analysis.
  • Adequate expression.
  • Overall, demonstrates the minimum level of competence in the assessment and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies in the degree or subject area.


0 - 49

  • Does not answer the question.
  • Contains significant or numerous errors.
  • Few or no identifiable arguments.
  • Content that is inappropriate or irrelevant.
  • Lack of research or analysis.
  • Difficult or impossible to understand through poor grammar, expression or structure.
  • Overall, does not demonstrate the minimum level of competence in the assessment.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The late submission of a piece of assessment, without an approved extension, will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per 24 hours or part thereof, after the due time on the due date. For example, a submission after the due time but before the same time the following day will attract a 10% penalty.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Family Law Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Constitutional Issues in Family Law Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 02 Marriage, Divorce & De Facto Relationships 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Marriage, Divorce & De Facto Relationships 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Family Violence 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Family Violence 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Resolution of Family Disputes 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Resolution of Family Disputes 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Family Lawyers and Ethics Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Parenting 1 – Understanding the Context Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Parenting 2 – Parenthood, Parental Responsibility Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Parenting 3 – Parenting Orders 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Parenting 4 – Parenting Orders 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Review class Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Economic Context and Child Support Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Property 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Property 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Property 3 Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 12 Maintenance and Private Ordering Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Review Class Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of classes (or as otherwise specified by the Unit Coordinator) to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Attendance requirements may be satisfied by in person attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment.  

Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style, although you should confirm this with your lecturer, and a link to the library website where this is set out comprehensively is available at  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Canvas site under ‘Reading List’

  • Patrick Parkinson, Australian Family Law in Context: Commentary and Materials (8th ed Thomson Reuters, 2023).

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe the social context of family law and analyse debates about the legal regulation of families
  • LO2. collaboratively identify the characteristics and qualities that form the basis for becoming effective and sensitive family law practitioners
  • LO3. collabortively and critically analyse existing law and policy concerning the breakdown of family relationships and identify opportunities for law reform
  • LO4. practice prediction skills with respect to the way family law principles may be applied in judicial and non-judicial settings

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Minor changes have been made since the unit was last offered.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.