LAWS101 Divorce and Family Law

Department of Business Studies: Paralegal/Law

I. Course Number and Title
LAWS101 Divorce and Family Law
II. Number of Credits
3 credits
III. Minimum Number of Instructional Minutes Per Semester
2250 minutes
IV. Prerequisites
LAWS100 or LAWS110
Corequisites
None
V. Other Pertinent Information
None
VI. Catalog Course Description
This course covers the principles of the Divorce Code of 1980 in Pennsylvania courts, and a comparison with other states. Emphasis is on divorce law, antenuptial agreements, separation agreements, child custody issues, child support, alimony, tax consequences of divorce, and adoptions.
VII. Required Course Content and Direction
  1. Learning Goals:

    1. General knowledge of the elements of family law and practice as they relate to specific sub-areas of practice likely to be encountered in family law.
    2. An exposure to the practical aspects of assisting a lawyer specializing in family law to serve clients in those areas of practice likely to be encountered in a family law office.
    3. Acquisition of knowledge of the function and operation of the courts and administrative agencies in dealing with family law issues.
    4. Fundamentals of the logistical management of a family law matter, including billing practices communication with clients and systemization of file management. Recognition and familiarity with specialized areas of family law practice.
    5. Understanding and familiarity with practice and procedure in the following areas of family law practice:
      1. preparation of pleadings.
      2. antenuptial agreements, including preparation and interpretation, and contractual co-habitation.
      3. separation agreements, specifically including legal issues and drafting options.
      4. child custody issues, including joint custody, primary custody and visitation.
    6. Understand the ethical consideration in family and divorce law.
  2. Planned Sequence of Topics and/or Learning Activities:

    1. Introductory Lecture, Ethics in Family Law Practice and Overview
    2. Dynamics of working in family law, Separation of tasks, Office manuals and checklists, Assessing your own biases, What does the client want?, Violence directed at attorneys, Ethics and malpractice, Competence, Fees, Confidentiality of information, Conflict of interest, Safekeeping property, False statements/failure to disclose.
    3. Preliminary legal interview, Deterioration of marriage, Prior contracts, Itemized expenses, Wills and trusts, Rearing and custody of children, Stocks, bonds, accounts, safe deposits boxes, Tax returns.
    4. Formulation of ceremonial marriages and common law marriages, Raising the marriage issue, Regulating who can marry, Ceremonial marriage, Conflict of law, Impediment removal, Homosexual "marriages".
    5. Child support, Separation agreement, Initial decision by a court, Modification of child support orders, Enforcement of child support orders, Civil contempt, Prosecution for criminal nonsupport, Income withholding, License denial or revocation, Tax refund intercept program (TRIP), Unemployment compensation intercept, Qualified domestic relations order, Qualified medical child support order (QMCSO).
    6. Mid-Term Review
    7. Divorce, judicial separation, and separate maintenance, No-Fault grounds for divorce, Fault grounds for divorce, Defenses to the fault grounds for divorce
    8. Judicial separation, Separate maintenance, Kinds of divorce, Domicile, Jurisdiction, Part of divorce decree being attacked, Person attacking divorce decree, Miscellaneous pretrial matters, Preliminary orders, Trials, Divorce judgment.
    9. Tax consequences of separation and divorce, Role of tax law in the bargaining process, Alimony, Deductible alimony: the 7 tests, Recapture rule, Property division, Legal and related fees in obtaining a divorce, Adoption, Kinds of adoption, Who may be adopted, Who may adopt?, Adoption procedure, Consequences of adoption, Confidentiality, Equitable adoption, Wrongful adoption.
    10. Kinds of custody, Separation agreement, Visitation, Court-Ordered Custody: child''s perspective, Parent vs. Parent: considerations in the custody, Court''s discretion, Legal preferences, Morality, Religion, Cultural continuity, New "Terror Weapon", Biological parent vs. Psychological parent.
    11. Modification of the custody order by the State that is issued the order, Jurisdictional problems and child snatching, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), Children Abroad: special problems.
    12. Protection from abuse
    13. Review of current law and cases
    14. Final Exam and review
  3. Assessment Methods for Core Learning Goals:

  4. Reference, Resource, or Learning Materials to be used by Students:

    See course outline for required textbook
VIII. Teaching Methods Employed
INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS:
  1. Reading Assignments
  2. Lecture
  3. Class discussion of written assignments

METHOD OF EVALUATING STUDENT PERFORMANCE:
  1. Major exams
  2. Written homework assignments
  3. Class participation
  4. Sample separation agreement, pleadings for filing in Bucks County including divorce, custody & support

Review/Approval Date - 4/99; Revised 3/05