Family law touches all of our lives at some point. It covers the legal regulation of family life, including the extent to which family life should be seen as a private matter and to which different types of family are treated differently for example marital, non-marital and same-sex relationships and families. It considers the extent to which English family law is based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition and how easily it accommodates family patterns from different ethnic and faith traditions. This is examined both in relation to domestic law and the recognition of overseas marriages and divorces.
As well as examining the substantive rules governing the aspects of family life that deal with the regulation of adult relationship formation and breakdown, this module also examines the difficulties that the law has in balancing the need for clear and objective rules to govern behaviour with the need to take the variety of individual circumstances into account. This has led to considerable use of judicial discretion and the strengths and weaknesses of this approach are considered during the module.
Ownership and occupation of the family home are explored to draw out the differences between analyses of houses as homes or property. Although there is some overlap with material studied in the property law modules, the focus in this module is quite different – examining the assumptions behind and the social effects of different approaches.