The University of Southampton

LAWS3091 Child Support Law

Module Overview

The Child Support Law module is a specialist family law module, although it is not essential to have studied family law previously. Child support is about the responsibility of parents who are not the primary carers of their children to provide them with ongoing financial support or "child maintenance". The module also considers the influence of changes in political and social policies on the evolution of child support law. The module encourages you to appreciate the social, national and global context within which law operates. Throughout the module you will have the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of child support law issues; an appreciation of the complexities of legal concepts, ethics, rules and principles within the Child Support Law context and explain the most important legal rules and principles affecting child support. You will be encouraged to understand and engage in reflection on the merits of those rules and principles within the broader policy and the social and political context of the law. Consequently you will use your skills of analysis and synthesis of a wide range of primary sources in order to more effectively communicate ideas.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• to offer students the opportunity to study the law of child support in depth; • to develop students’ awareness of the social policy implications of legislative changes in the field of child support; • to develop an enhanced understanding of the social, national and global context within which law operates; • to reflect the School’s mission in research-led teaching and learning. • to identify the relevant legal facts and legal issues raised; explain the law applicable to the identified legal issues; apply the relevant law to the given facts; examine uncertainties in the law and its application to the given facts and evaluate alternative approaches and arguments; provide adequate support by reference to legal authority in order to tackle a given factual scenario

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the operation of child support law in England and Wales and evaluation of this in its historical, political, economic and social contexts
  • the importance of policy, procedure and reform plus their relationships with the substantive law with reference to relevant policy documents including consultation papers and reports from Government Departments, the Law Commission and pressure group
  • the role of socio-legal research
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify sources of information relevant to child support law and practice the analysis of primary and secondary legislative materials
  • tackle a given factual scenario effectively through identification, evaluation, use and referencing of resources
  • carry out self-directed research asking and answering and ask cogent questions about law and legal systems and including retrieval and evaluation of accurate and relevant information from a range of appropriate sources including, but not exclusive to primary legal sources
  • construct a coherent evaluation of a current issue in the field of child support law from the identified sources and communicate that evaluation effectively in writing demonstrating an awareness of academic integrity
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse, interpret and evaluate complex material, including statistical data
  • engage in critical analysis and evaluation to effectively apply knowledge to solve practical problems
  • formulate an effective, reasoned and structured argument and present it supported by appropriate evidence
  • demonstrate and engagement with personal and professional development especially intellectual independence


• Child Support Law: an Introduction • Historical development of child support • The Child Support Act 1991 • Liability under the 1991 Act • The Child Maintenance & Other Payments Act 2008 • Assessment of child maintenance • Departures and variations from the formula • Decision making and appeals • Child support in Australia and the USA • Reform of child support

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching programme comprises ten 2-hour, weekly seminars. Teaching methods include: • Seminars for which preparation is required. Learning activities include: • Directed reading assisted by reading lists; • Accessing resources in the form of legislation, journals and case materials; • Reviewing and evaluating complex material; • Tackling and solving factual legal problems; • Formulating and presenting in oral and written form reasoned and structured arguments. Preparation for, and participation at, seminars will develop: • Knowledge of the substantive principles and rules of child support law; • Appreciation of constructive criticism of the law and the policy that underpins it; • Ability to manage and access diverse range of sources of law, especially statutory material and case law; • Ability to critically evaluate those sources and participate constructively in oral discussions concerning them; • Ability to structure and express thoughts in logically coherent way; • Ability to apply those materials to problem solving exercises.

Follow-up work70
Completion of assessment task30
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Wider reading or practice20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Davis, Wikeley and Young (1998). Child Support in Action. 

N Wikeley (2006). Child Support Law and Policy. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/recommended text as appropriate. N Wikeley, Child Support Law and Policy (Hart Publishing, 2006).

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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