A One Semester Family Law Class
This is a rough draft outline for a class with three purposes:
The outline provides an example on how to provide a writing and feedback
intensive environment for students. The entire outline revolves around teaching
knowledge and written application.
The material is material that provides useful applied knowledge and skill
for the students in the class. Students tend to graduate without any
useful skills or abilities. This class provides a useful core knowledge
for practice after graduation.
The outline validates earlier thesis in the Pragmatic Reform of Legal
Education: A Critical Syllabus series. By the time the reader
is finished with this essay they ought to be thinking -- I can teach topic
" -- " that way too!
For related materials (somewhat longer than this short essay) see
The Paraclinical Approach.
WEEK ONE -- The Style of a Case // Class Overview.
This week has two major lessons. First, it introduces students to the
way that court pleadings actually look. Many students graduate from
law school without any idea of what a pleading (or a local court room) actually
Second, the entire content of the class is set out so that the students know
what they will be learning. This is a long, substantive introduction
to the material.
The writing assignment is a "warm-up" -- the students draft three styles.
WEEK TWO -- Parties and Jurisdiction (including standing).
This week begins real, substantive law. Who the parties are in a family
law case, who can bring a suit and who can not. Who can intervene.
This week also teaches which court has jurisdiction and prefaces the concepts
involved in "home state" and other issues.
The writing assignment is again very simple. The parties and jurisdiction
part of a pleading. Students need to warm up to the idea of regular
WEEK THREE -- Service of Process.
When service must be made in person, what to do when service is avoided,
service by publication and posting.
The writing assignment includes normal service and citation, alternative
service, and a Motion and Order for the appointment of an ad litem. While
this is a "real" (not nominal) amount of writing, it provides the student
with exposure to the concepts taught, useful practice forms and can be
accomplished in less than an hour.
WEEK FOUR -- No Fault and Fault Grounds for Divorce (including a pragmatic
Pleading and proving the reasons for a divorce.
This week goes over what you "can" verses what you "should" include.
Writing assignment includes three hypotheticals and drafting the grounds
for each of the hypotheticals.
WEEK FIVE -- Ex Parte Protective Orders.
This weeks explains the limits and the uses of the law.
It also introduces the students to forms, current issues, and real problems
clients will have and issues of detail, proof and variations from county
to county and judge to judge.
The writing assignment is drafting an application, the ex parte order and
WEEK SIX -- Ex Parte Injunctive Relief.
The "usual" prohibitions to keep assets in place.
This week should include pragmatic notes on how to protect clients.
Drafting the Motion for Ex Parte Relief.
WEEK SEVEN -- Protective Orders and Temporary Orders. (excluding support)
Issues of proof. What to expect out of a hearing.
Drafting of the Orders (two hypotheticals, two orders).
WEEK EIGHT -- Standard Discovery.
WEEK NINE -- Interim Support (individual and child support).
WEEK TEN -- Custody Issues.
WEEK ELEVEN -- Changing Custody.
WEEK TWELVE -- Property Division.
WEEK THIRTEEN -- Advanced Property Division.
WEEK FOURTEEN -- The Decree of Divorce (all the standard boilerplate). Practice
a standard prove-up.
WEEK FIFTEEN -- Other Issues (marital torts, etc.).
WEEK SIXTEEN -- Review
Day One (a): Reading Assignment then Lecture and writing assignment.
Day One (b): Student study group review of written drafts of members
(3-5 in each group).
Day Two (a): Follow-up lecture with template example for writing assignment
distributed and discussed. Draft to final and turned in.
Day Two (b): Study groups grade each other's final drafts. Students
rewrite and submit for grading to Professor (pass/fail). By this time
the students will have done a draft, had a template, had their draft finalized,
had it graded by another study group and then turned in a revised draft.
99% should pass without significant issues. Family law, with
the standardized pleadings and forms, lends itself very well to this approach.
Day Three (a): Lecture. Advanced discussion on each topic.
Day Three (b): Office visits prn.
By the end of the semester the student will have drafted each pleading that
will arise in a divorce and will have reviewed and discussed it. The
final will be the proper selection of the right pleadings for complex situations
and identifying the right answer to complex family law issues.
Originally found at: http://members.aol.com/Ethesis/mw3/rf6/family.htm
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