The aim of this module is to provide the student with a sound understanding of the existing legal provisions dealing with family relationships between adults. It also introduces the student to some of the legal, moral, social and political debates which inform the substantive content of this area of the law. The module places particular emphasis on the challenges raised by the changing nature of family life in contemporary society and examines whether the law has responded adequately to these changes. The existing law and current reform proposals are considered in detail, with particular reference to the arguments raised by commentators who believe the law works unfairly against certain groups in society including women, cohabitants and same-sex couples.
Topics covered include: the concept of 'family', the diverse range of intimate adult relationships which could be categorised as 'familial' and the aims, functions and limitations of the law in this area; marriage and nullity; same-sex partnerships; cohabitation; protection afforded to the victims of domestic violence and harassment; the law and procedure relating to divorce; and the redistribution of family income and assets upon separation or divorce.