Course Title: Family law

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2012

Course Code: LAW5191

Course Title: Family law

School: 650T TAFE Business

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6106 - Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice

Course Contact : Doug Gourlay

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925-5944

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Course Co-ordinator:            Alana Ryan
Work Phone:                          Casual staff member - 9925 5464 - BTS Reception 

Nominal Hours: 51

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Pre-requisites:  VU20111 Legal Process

Course Description

To provide knowledge and skills in the field of Family Law and the related fields of de facto relationships, enforcement of Family Court orders and related matters as skills desirable for a person engaged in the operation of a legal office, citizen’s advise bureau or similar information service.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VU20115 Family law

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

Learning Outcome 1 - Analyse the legal definition of marriage, legal requirements of parties within a marriage, and situations where a marriage is void.
Assessment criteria
1.1 Identify and define the conditions under which a marriage is considered valid under the law.
1.2 Analyse the law as it relates to the duties, rights and responsibilities of the parties to the marriage with reference to marriage as a contract, the obligation to maintain each other and the Common Law position.
1.3 Identify and analyse the situations in which a marriage is considered illegal, and the penalties should said marriage take place.
1.4 Discuss the legal implications of same sex unions, polygamous unions, sexual reassignment cases and monogamous unions.

Learning Outcome 2 - Analyse the development of the Family Law Act and assess the jurisdiction of the Family Court.
Assessment criteria
2.1 Analyse the main elements of the historical development of Divorce Law with reference to the Christian belief and the operation of the ecclesiastical courts.
2.2 Compare and contrast fault-based dissolution of marriage with no-fault dissolution
2.3 Analyse the development of the Family Law Act.
2.4 Identify the jurisdiction of the Family Court of Australia.
2.5 Assess the powers given to the Family Court by the Family Law Act to penalise those who do not comply with its orders.

Learning Outcome 3 - Identify the grounds upon which the Family Court of Australia will dissolve a marriage.
Assessment criteria
3.1 Determine the need to prove that there is a valid marriage for the court to have jurisdiction, with reference to:
• what constitutes jurisdiction
• what constitutes a valid marriage in Australia and overseas
• distinction between dissolution and annulment
• position of void marriages in Australia
3.2 Establish the requirements that must be satisfied before the court will grant a decree nisi for the dissolution of a marriage.
3.3 Identify the requirements that must be met for a decree nisi to become a decree absolute.

Learning Outcome 4 - Analyse the legal aspects of the care of children after parental separation.
Assessment criteria
4.1 Identify the range of children that fall within the jurisdiction of the Family Court.
4.2 Analyse and define the terms in the context of the Family Law Act.
4.3 Identify procedures required before a party may seek orders in relation to children.
4.4 Identify and analyse the main considerations exercised by the Family Court when making an order in relation to children.
4.5 Analyse the types of orders that the Family Court may make in relation to children.
4.6 Assess the situations in which the Family Court will vary orders relating to children.

Learning Outcome 5 - Analyse and detail the provisions of the Family Law Act with reference to Spousal Maintenance.
Assessment criteria
5.1 Identify the parties that are eligible to receive maintenance.
5.2 Identify and detail the prerequisites to the making of a maintenance order.
5.3 Assess the factors considered in the assessment of maintenance.
5.4 Evaluate the factors that may lead to termination or variation of a maintenance order.

Learning Outcome 6 - Analyse and assess the development of the law in relation to the paying of maintenance for children.
Assessment criteria
6.1 Analyse and evaluate the current child maintenance legislation.
6.2 Identify the range of children who are subject to the provisions of the Acts.
6.3 Analyse the method of calculation of the amount of child support to be paid.
6.4 Determine the provisions for deviations from the prescribed formula, giving relevant case study examples.
6.5 Assess the procedure for the enforcement of child support payments with reference to civil action and other action.
6.6 Evaluate and analyse the justice of the system from the point of view of the paying party, receiving party and child.

Learning Outcome 7 Analyse the division of property under the Family Law Act.
Assessment criteria
7.1 Identify who may apply for property orders under the Family Law Act
7.2 Determine property available for division
7.3 Assess and compare declarations of property rights and orders altering property rights
7.4 Analyse the criteria used by the court to determine property orders.
7.5 Analyse the property orders available to the court and the grounds for setting aside property orders.
7.6 Assess pre–action procedures in the court and consent orders as they relate to the division of property
7.7 Analyse the principles relating to financial agreements

Learning Outcome 8 - Analyse the constitutional and legislative provisions relating to domestic partnerships other than marriage.
Assessment criteria
8.1 Determine legislative provisions applicable to domestic relationships.
8.2 Assess the criteria for dividing property between parties to a domestic relationship to which the Family Law Act and the Relationships Act do not apply.

Learning Outcome 9 - Assess the operation of the Family Law Act and Family Violence Protection Act in relation to the making of orders.
Assessment criteria
9.1 Analyse the operation of the urgency provisions of the Family Law Act.
9.2 Assess the types of orders that the court might make.
9.3 Outline the area of operation of the Family Violence Protection Act.
9.4 Assess the protection given by the Family Violence Protection Act., with reference to:
• the parties to the relationship or other family members
• the property, both real and personal, of the parties
• the powers of members of the police force
• the powers of the court
9.5 Determine the consequences for a party in the event of breaching such an order and evaluate the effectiveness of these as a deterrent.
9.6 Analyse the circumstances in which a party may wish to proceed before the court on an ex-parte procedure.

Learning Outcome 10 - Evaluate the main provisions of the Adoption Act and identify the consequences for the parties involved in the event of an adoption order being made.
Assessment criteria
10.1 Assess the main provisions of the Adoption Act.
10.2 Identify the parties who may adopt and be adopted, and the parties who must give consent for an adoption to take place.
10.3 Identify the effect of an adoption order, including the consequences for the parties involved.
10.4 Analyse the process necessary for appeals against or revocation of an adoption order, citing relevant case study examples.
10.5 Evaluate the effectiveness of procedures to gain access to adoption records.

Learning Outcome 11 - Identify and evaluate of organisations that offer help to the parties in a relationship which is under stress.
Assessment criteria
11.1 Illustrate the main benefits that are available from Federal Government sources, and identify the parties that are eligible to receive them.
11.2 Evaluate the operations of a variety of counselling services.
11.3 Analyse the availability and operation of emergency accommodation, refuges and shelters.

Learning Outcome 12 - Analyse and evaluate the basis upon which an appeal may be made against the decision of a judge or magistrate, and the procedure required before the court on the hearing of an appeal.
Assessment criteria
12.1 Assess the basis for and prerequisite of an appeal to the Family Court from the decision of a Magistrate.
12.2 Determine the basis upon which a party may appeal against the decision of a Family Court judge.
12.3 Specify the procedure when making an appeal to the Full Family Court.
12.4 Analyse the basis on which appeals may be made to the High Court of Australia with reference to appeal or judicial review on a question of constitutionality and leave to appeal.

Details of Learning Activities

Students will study Family law and theory in class sessions and through prescribed exercises and assessment work. These concepts will also be explored through the investigation of appropriate real world and simulated environments.

Teaching Schedule

Week - Full time studentsTopic -Learning Activities

0. 25th June


• Introduction to the learning materials and outcomes in Family Law, including development of Family law Act and Family CourtNo set reading
1. 2nd July

• Getting Married


Text book chapter 3, & pages 81 - 96

Tutorial exercises

2. 11th July• Marriages

Text book chapter 3

Tutorial exercises

3. 16th July• Divorce including development of Family Law Act and Family Court and assessment of jurisdiction of Family Court

Text book chapter 4

Research assignment to be handed out - 20%

4. 23th July• Children

Text book chapter 5

Tutorial exercises

5. 30th July



6. 6th August• Children and the Independent Children’s Lawyer and Family Consultants

Class handout

Tutorial exercises

Practice test/solutions

7. 13th August


Topics 1 to 4 - 30%

8. 20th August


Spousal maintenance


Text book chapter 7 

Tutorial exerices

27/08/2012 -- 31/08/2012



9. 3rd September 
• Property Disputes

Text book chapter 8

Tutorial exercises

Research assignment - 20% - to be submitted

10. 10th September• Property Disputes

Text book chapter 8

Tutorial exercises

11. 17th September• Financial Disputes between De Facto Partners

Text book chapter 9

Tutorial exercises

12. 24th September• Child Support, evaluation of organisations which help parties in a stressful relationship, appeals

Text book chapter 6

Class handout
Tutorial exercises

13. 1st October

• Urgent Ex Parte Orders
• Family Violence
• Child abuse

 Counselling services

Text book chapter 10 

Tutorial exercises

Class handout

14. 8th October

• Appeals


Class handout

Tutorial exercises

15. 15th October• Revision

Practice Test/solutions

16. 22nd October


End of Semester exam - OPEN BOOK
Topics 5 - 12 - 50%
17. 29th October


• Deferred assessments, feedback




0. 25th JuneIntroduction to the learning materials and to Family law Act and Family Court 
1. 2nd JulyGetting married, marriage 
3. 16th July Divorce, childrenResearch assignment to be handed out - topics 1 - 4 - 20%
6. 6th August Children, Indpendent Childrens lawyer Practice test
 8. 20 August Independent Childrens Lawyer, Spousal Maintenance Practice test solutions
 10. 10th Sep Mid semester Test

 Mid Semester Test - 30% - open book

Research assignment  - 20% - to be submitted

11. 17th Sept  
  12.24th Sept Distribution of matrimonial property, financial disputes between domestic partners 
  13. 1st Oct Child support, Family Violence, Child Abuse, ex parte orders, counselling services, appeals, adoption Practice test/solutions
  15. 8th Oct End of semester exam End of semester exam 50% - open book
  16.15th Oct Deferred assessments, feedback 

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Mills, E, Ebejer, M; Family Law, Butterworths (2010) (Available in the RMIT Bookshop building 108)


Other Resources

Marshall, J; Family Law, TAFE Frontiers (Chapters available on the Learning Hub)

Other Resources (available on the web for free)
Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)
Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)
Marriage Act 1961 (Cth)
Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth)
Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (Cth)

Overview of Assessment

Assessment methods have been designed to measure achievement of the requirements in a flexible manner over a range of assessment tasks, for example:

• practical exercises
• case studies
• assignments
• projects
• tests and/or exams

Students are advised that they are likely to be asked to personally demonstrate their assessment work to their teacher to ensure that the relevant curriculum standards are being met.  Students will be provided with feedback throughout the course to check their progress.

Assessment Tasks

Mid semesterTest (30% of the final assessment)
This will be an open book test conducted in Week 7 under examination conditions.for full time students, and in week 10 for part time students

Research assignment: (20% of the final assessment)
This is a take home assessment task based upon the topics of divorce and children to be subitted by full time students in week 9 and part time students in week 10

End of semester test:(50% of the final assessment)
This will be an open book test conducted for full time students in Week 16 for full time students and in week 15 for part time students.

Assessment Matrix

Other Information

You may apply for Special Consideration if you believe your academic performance has been severely affected by illness or another serious cause outside your control.
The RMIT Special consideration policy can be found at:

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is based on current industry needs and the focus on preparing you for the workplace. Because VET courses are informed by practical application of knowledge and skills, they are based on a system known as ‘competency based training’ (CBT). So when you are assessed in VET it is about whether you are competent to do the job as well as having a firm grasp on the knowledge and skills required to do that job. This is as opposed to traditional curriculum based education settings which are often based on knowledge retention.

You need to demonstrate you are competent in each element of the course you are studying. You will receive feedback on each assessment task which will inform you whether you are competent or not and how well you are performing. Once deemed competent in all elements of the unit you receive a competency grading. Please refer to the Final Grades listed below.

Marking Guide (Grading)
After achieving competency we then grade your performance in the unit. This gives you the opportunity to have the level of your performance formally recognized against industry standards and employability skills.

The grading is according to the following criteria:

You are required to demonstrate a high level of ability to complete all tasks independently as per the specifications, as well as demonstrating a high level of initiative in your access of information required for the assessments tasks, accuracy and quality of information presented using the information you have accessed, analysed and presented.

You need to show a depth of understanding of the key concepts and knowledge of law covered in the assessment tasks.

Demonstration of appropriate use of technology to assist in presenting all tasks clearly and suitable for the intended audience. This requires use of web sites to access data.

You must complete all work requirements as per course requirements and timely submission of all required assessment tasks. You need to collate data and organise it in a presentable format that meets the requirements of the assessment tasks.

You are required to work in collaboration to complete tasks. Communication skills and class participation is assessed in determining competency in this course.

Final Grade Table
CHD Competent with High Distinction
CDI Competent with Distinction
CC Competent with Credit
CAG Competency Achieved – Graded
NYC Not Yet Competent
DNS Did Not Submit for assessment

Course Overview: Access Course Overview