Course Title: Family law

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2014

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:          Andrew Webster
Work Phone:                         9925 5458

Teacher:                                Alana Ryan


Work phone:                         99252000

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.

A range of learning experiences are planned for this course including class and online activities, group problem solving and group debates.  These will be delivered through classes of 2 hours per week for 16 weeks as per the teaching schedule. The nominal hours associated with this are a guide only and represent the total teaching time and student effort required to successfully complete the course. This may include not only scheduled classes but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Student Induction: conducted prior to commencement of classes or during the first class and will cover the following: Blackboard, Overview of assessment requirements including Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfers, Grading, Plagiarism, Appeals,Extensions,Feedback,Privacy, Submission requirements, Resubmission policy, Where to get support, Student responsibilities

Teaching Schedule

Week                 Date week begins                  Topic -Learning Activities
107 July

 • Introduction to the learning materials and outcomes in Family Law, including development of Family law Act and Family Court


Text book chapter 3, & pages 81 - 96

Tutorial exercises

214 July• Marriages

Text book chapter 3

Tutorial exercises

321 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%

428 July• Children

Text book chapter 5

Tutorial exercises

504 August

• Children


611 August• Children and the Independent Children’s Lawyer and Family Consultants, Parenting Plans

Class handout

Tutorial exercises

Children’s  assignment to be handed out - 35%

718 AugustSpousal maintenance

Text book chapter 7

Research assignment - 20% - to be submitted

825 August


Property disputes


Text book chapter 8 

Tutorial exerices




908 September 
• Property Disputes

Text book chapter 8

Tutorial exercises


1015 September• De facto financial Disputes

Text book chapter 9

Tutorial exercises

1122 September• Child support

Text book chapter 6

Tutorial exercises

1229 September• Family Violence

Text book chapter 10

Class handout
Tutorial exercises

Children’s assignment to be submitted - 35%


1306 October

• Urgent Ex Parte Orders
• Child abuse

 Counselling services, organisations which support families under stress


Text book chapter 10 

Tutorial exercises

Class handout

1413 October

• Adoption


Class handout

Practice test solutions

1520 October• End of Semester Test

End of Semester exam - OPEN BOOK
Topics All learning outcomes - 45%

1627 October

Deferred tests


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Mills, E, Ebejer, M; Family Law, Butterworths (2012) (Available in the RMIT Bookshop ed 5)


Other Resources

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

To demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes in this course the following evidence is essential:

• Knowledge of Family Law and the related fields of de facto
relationships, and the enforcement of Family Law Court
• Identifying the provisions of the Family Law in relation to
dissolving of a marriage, custody and guardianship of
children after parental separation, spousal maintenance and
children maintenance
• Identifying the property rights and orders under the Family
Act with regards to altering property rights and determining
the property order used by the Family Court
• Knowledge of constitutional and legislative provisions under
the domestic partnerships order than marriage
• Analysing the Family Violence Protection Act in relation to
protection given and the consequences of breaching the
• Evaluating the provisions of the Adoption Act and the
consequences for the parties involved in the event of an
adoption order
• Identifying the organisations which help parties in a
relationship under stress
• Determining the basis upon which an appeal may be made,
and identify the appeal procedures when making an appeal
to the Family Court

In order to pass this course you must successfully complete the 3 assessment tasks. Assessment completion requirements To pass this course students must attempt assessments as required which are graded upon submission by the class assessor.
Grading is weighted so that a mark of 50% is a passing grade.

Assessment Task 1 - Research Assignment (20% of the final assessment)
Due Date: Week 7
Submission Procedure: In class Submission

The purpose of this assessment is to assess the topics of marriage and divorce

Assessment Task 2 - Children’s assignment (35% of the final assessment)
Due Date: Week 12
Submission Procedure: In Class Submission

The purpose of this assessment is to assess the topic material related to children

Assessment Task 3 -End of semester test: (45% of the final assessment)
Due Date: Week 15
Submission Procedure: In class - Open book test.

The purpose of this assessment is to assess the body of learning required for this course. Students must demonstrate an understanding of all elements of competency to be deemed competent.


Final Grades Table

HD High Distinction 80-100

DI Distinction 70-79
CR Credit 60-69
PA Pass 50-59
NN Pass 0-49

Further information regarding the application of the grading criteria will be provided by your teacher.

Assessment Matrix

Other Information

Submission Requirements

You should:
• Ensure that you submit assessments on or before the due date:
• If your performance in the assessment is affected by unexpected circumstances, you should consider applying for extensions of time. (Please refer to the information in the Late Submission Procedure section below)
• If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program manager or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
• Always retain a copy of your assessment tasks (hard copy and soft copy).
• When you submit work for assessment at RMIT University you need to use a cover sheet that includes a declaration
and statement of authorship. You must complete, sign and submit a cover sheet with all work you submit for
assessment, whether individual or group work. On the cover sheet you declare that the work you are presenting for
assessment is your own work. An assignment cover sheet for submission of work for assessment is available on
• Each page of your assessment should include a footer with your name, student number, the title of the assessment,
unit code and title and page numbers.

Late Submission Procedures

If you are prevented from submitting an assessment on time, by circumstances outside your control, you must apply in advance for an extension to the due date of up to seven calendar days.
More Information:
Form to use:

Where an extension of greater than seven days is needed, you must apply for special consideration. Applications for special consideration must be submitted no later than two working days after the assessment task deadline or scheduled examination.
More Information:;ID=g43abm17hc9w
Form to use:

If you fail an assessment you will be allowed one resubmission only. Your teacher will provide feedback regarding what you need to do to improve and will set a new deadline for the resubmission. The highest grade you will receive if your resubmission is successful is Pass. If you are still not meeting the assessment requirements you must apply to your Program Manager in writing outlining the steps you will take to demonstrate competence in your course. Your submission will be considered by the Program Team and you will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible.

Adjustments to Assessment
In certain circumstances students may be eligible for an assessment adjustment. For more information about the circumstances under which the assessment arrangements might be granted please access the following website:
More Information:;ID=kehn9bz22r41

Course Overview: Access Course Overview