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About This Course

Family law pertains to the formation and dissolution of domestic relations, including the law of marriage, annulment, separation and dissolution, maintenance, and custody and support of children. This course will study the differences between community and separate property, the classification of property, and the impact of such classification. The role of the paralegal in family law practice and the importance of mediation of domestic issues will also be discussed.

About the Instructor: Sam Germana is General Counsel for a New Jersey Hospital. He has previously worked for a private law firm representing physicians and hospitals. His background includes serving as panel member for the New York State family law fee dispute arbitration program. He has taught online and in person for The Center for Legal Studies since 1997, and is an adjunct faculty member at the College of St. Elizabeth. He enjoys teaching, and looks forward to helping students in any way he can.

Course Objectives

The course begins with an overview of divorce law and reviews important aspects to consider in property division, alimony, custody and support in a divorce. The course also describes post-divorce collection actions and necessary court actions after a divorce. Other aspects of family law are studied also, including common law marriage, prenuptial agreements, annulments, civil unions, adoptions, paternity and neglect actions. Students will learn common terminology in family law and some of the procedural concerns to consider in these areas of law.

Participants will demonstrate the following skills through successful completion of all required coursework and assignments:

  • Identify various source of information available regarding Divorce
  • Define and explain the function of a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation
  • Discuss the importance of a Summons and identify the different types or factors that affect it
  • Explain the basic function and purpose of temporary orders
  • Distinguish the types of temporary order agreements
  • Explain the criteria of a Common Law Marriage
  • Explain the criteria of Prenuptial Agreements
  • Examine sample states’ formulas for calculating child support
  • Describe the requirements of final orders
  • Explain how attorney fees are handled in divorce cases
  • Examine the following settlement methods: mediation, alternative dispute resolution, separation agreements, legal separation, and property division
  • Discuss Paternity Actions.
  • Explain child custody and identify parenting time issues
  • Discuss visitation rights for grandparents in divorce and paternity actions
  • Examine parenting plans and parental education requirements
  • Identify when modifications are possible for child and spousal support
  • Identify ways to collect support by way of wage assignment, garnishment, lien
  • Illustrate when to file a Motion for Contempt of Court
  • Summarize appealable issues within Family Law, such as Temporary Orders and Final Orders
  • Explain the criteria of Annulments
  • Discuss what Civil Action Suits are and explain their purpose
  • Differentiate community property and equitable division of property
  • Examine procedures for Order of Protection in your state
  • Discuss Intimate Partner Violence and remedies for victims
  • Examine how Intimate Partner Violence affects child custody and visitation
  • Define Juvenile Delinquency
  • Review Juvenile Court Proceedings
  • Explain the purpose of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)
  • Explain the overall process of adoptions
  • Examine the procedures for International adoptions
  • Summarize the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • Identify the specifications for adopting children with Birth Parent(s) in the Military
  • Explain what an Equitable Adoption is
  • Discuss adoption by same sex partners
  • Summarize Annulments of Adoption
  • Examine child custody and paternity issues related to assisted reproduction
  • Discuss surrogacy
  • Review assisted reproduction law in your state
  • Discuss ethical issues in family law

Expectations

You will be expected to spend an average of 8 hours per week reading and completing writing assignments. Please note that extensions will not be granted for this online course. 70% is the minimum passing score on all tests and assignments for this course. Students may consider working ahead in the curriculum if they have the time. Coursework in Family Law is equivalent to 45 clock hours of study.

Prerequisites

Successful completion of Paralegal I and II, or equivalent experience.

Course Books

Required textbooks for this course:

  • Family Law in a Nutshell, Most Recent Edition. St Paul: West Group by Harry D. Krause.

Highly Recommended Legal Resources:

  • Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition, by Daniel Oran. Clifton Park: Delmar Cengage Learning

For more information, call The Center for Legal Studies at 800-522-7737, or visit our Online Store to order.

Reading Assignments for Lesson Topics:

Lesson One: Family, Prenuptial Agreements, Cohabitation, Marriage and Divorce

  • Read the Preface and Chapters 1 thru 5 in Family Law in a Nutshell (Nutshell)

Lesson Two: Paternity & Child Custody

  • Read Chapters 6 & 7 in Nutshell

Lesson Three: Child Support, Spousal Support & Collecting Support

  • Read Chapters 8 & 9 in Nutshell

Lesson Four: Property Issues & Annulments

  • Read Chapters 10 & 11 in Nutshell.

Lesson Five: Intimate Partner Violence & Juvenile Court

  • Read Chapters 12 & 15 in Nutshell

Lesson Six: Adoption, Assisted Reproduction & Ethics

  • Read Chapters 13, 14 & 16 in Nutshell

Writing Assignments:

For each lesson you will submit a 50-point writing assignment covering the topics in that lesson’s reading consisting of a variety of short answer questions and essay questions.

Exams:

You will complete two exams. Each is worth 50 points. The Midterm exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Three Assignments; the Final exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Six Assignments. Exams are comprised of true/false, short answer and essay questions.

Legal Document Preparation Assignments:

You will prepare two legal document assignments.  Each is worth 30 points. Legal Document Preparation Assignment One: Prenuptial Agreement will be due with your Lesson Three Assignments; Legal Document Preparation Assignment Two: Marital Separation Agreement will be due with your Lesson Six Assignments.

Bulletin Board Assignments:

You will also post your responses to six class participation assignments. These assignments are referred to as Bulletin Board Submissions and will be submitted by either selecting Bulletin Board Submission from within the lesson material, or by selecting ‘Forums’ under Activities on the Left Hand Block.

All lesson objectives, assignments, and tests can be found in the Lesson Materials.

Grading

Your grade will be based on your completion of six writing assignment assignments, two exams, two legal document assignments, and class participation/Bulletin Board Submissions. The exams, legal document preparation assignments, and writing assignments can be accessed from within the lesson material, or by selecting ‘Assignments’ under Activities on the Left Hand Block. You will have the opportunity to engage in “class participation” by using the Bulletin Board tool to respond to the bulletin board assignments throughout the course. Also, participating in the bulletin board assignments will enhance your understanding of the reading material.

Your final grade will be figured as follows:

  • The six writing assignments are worth 50 points each and comprise 40% of your grade.
  • The two exams are worth 50 points each and comprise 30% of your grade.
  • The two legal document preparation assignments are worth 30 points each and comprise 20% of your grade.
  • Your participation in class participation assignments comprises 10% of your grade.

Withdrawal Policy

Students may drop the course with a full tuition refund less a non-refundable $15 administrative fee if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] by the Wednesday before class begins. Students may drop the course with a 50% tuition refund if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] anytime from the Thursday before the course begins until the first Thursday of class. After the first Thursday of class, no refunds will be issued.