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The module explores the law as it relates to marriage and relationship formation and breakdown, with particular reference to marriage formation, the law of nullity, and the law relating to separation agreements, judicial separation, and divorce. It also addresses laws that enhance the rights and obligations of unmarried couples, including civil partnership and the law addressing non-marital cohabitation. Legal responses to relationship breakdown, including judicial separation, divorce and civil partnership dissolution, will feature prominently, with a focus on the court-ordered remedies available following judicial separation, divorce and dissolution, and the ending of a cohabiting relationship, as well as the criteria for applying these remedies.
The module seeks throughout to highlight the increasingly international dimensions of family law, with an emphasis on cross-border recognition of relationships and court orders, and the free movement of families. It also emphasises the importance, where appropriate and feasible, of seeking to resolve disputes by conciliation, mediation, and collaborative practices. In particular, it examines the main characteristics of separation agreements and the potential use of pre-nuptial agreements.
1. Defining the Family: The Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights; Issues of Family Diversity: Civil Partnership and Cohabitation
2. Going to Court: The Family Court system and the in camera rule
3. Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation, Conciliation, and Collaborative Family Law
4. Marriage Formation and Capacity to Marry; Nullity of Marriage
5. Separation Agreements and Pre-nuptial Agreements
6. Judicial Separation
7. Divorce; Recognition of foreign divorces
8. Ancillary Orders (Remedies) following Judicial Separation and Divorce; Maintenance and Child Support
9. Family Property
10. Alternatives to Marriage: Cohabitation and Civil Partnership
11. Domestic Violence and Families at Risk
12. Transnational Family issues and Conflicts of Law; Brussels II bis; Cross-border recognition and enforcement
The module will address some matters relating to children and the law, but this topic is generally the subject of the Child Law module.
Any aspect of this module may be changed in any given academic year, subject to the discretion of the module lecturer.