Family Law Pathway

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Family Law is a practice area that encompasses the legal issues families face. These issues include divorce, spousal support, child support, custody, division of assets and liabilities due to divorce, adoption, termination of parental rights, paternity, dependency and child neglect and protection from abuse. A Family Law attorney should possess strong litigation and negotiation skills and have a sincere interest in people. Since you may be dealing with individuals who may be experiencing an emotional time in their lives, having compassion and the ability to counsel them will be an important part of the practice. Having a basic understanding of accounting and financial matters will help to advise the client and to present financial issues to the court.

There are a number of courses devoted to subjects within the broad area of Family Law as well courses to help you prepare to take the bar examination. Students who want to pursue legal practice in Family Law should consider the courses below. Other courses, besides those listed, are offered under the FIU College of Law curriculum.

Please view the Schedule of Classes to determine which courses will be offered during the current school year.

Foundation Courses related to this pathway include: Constitutional Law.

Core Courses

Family Law
LAW 6710 Family Law (3). This course examines state regulation of sexual and marital relationships, including the conflict between the doctrines of family privacy and state intervention in the marital relationship. Topics include: premarital controversies, capacity to marry and the formalities of marriage; rights and duties of marital partners; annulment and separation; divorce grounds and no-fault; spousal support and basic issues of property distribution; principles governing child custody and visitation; child support; mediation of property and custody issues; and regulation of non-traditional relationships.

LAW 6330 Evidence (3). This course addresses the law of evidence, including: hearsay, judicial notice, burden of proof, and presumptions; functions of judge and jury; competency and privileges of witnesses; and exclusion of testimony of witnesses and documents.

Wills and Trusts
LAW 6430 Wills and Trusts (3-4). The intergenerational transfer of wealth in the United States is controlled by both statutory and common law principles. Competing views of the individual’s freedom of disposition and state power both to channel and to tax property have led to an interesting and complex array of legal devices and institutions. These include statutory intestacy and elective share provisions, wills, and trusts. Related topics to be addressed will include planning for incapacity, future interests in property, powers of appointment, life insurance, and introductory aspects of trust and estate administration.

LAW 6313 Negotiation (2-3). The course is designed to provide students an understanding of the history, process and practice of negotiation through role-plays, simulations and life experiences.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
LAW 6310 Alternative Dispute Resolution (2-3). This course entails an examination of the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and techniques for incorporating them into legal practice. A variety of readings and exercises are used as background for discussions of the utility of different mechanisms for resolving certain kinds of disputes. This course focuses on adjudication, negotiation, and mediation.

LAW 6383 Mediation (3). Students will gain an understanding of the practice of mediation from the perspective of a lawyer representing a client, along with acquiring the skill to focus on the interactions of the participants.
Advanced Electives

Administrative Law
LAW 6520 Administrative Law (2-3). This is an introduction to the laws controlling executive branch agencies of government. Major topics include delegation of power to agencies, modes of agency action, control of agencies by the legislative branch, control by the judicial branch, and public access and influence.

LAW 6052 Bankruptcy (2-3). This course covers such diverse matters as the various forms of relief available to different kinds of debtors, including liquidation, reorganization of a business, and adjustment of an individual’s debts; financing a Chapter 11 debtor in possession; the automatic stay and the rights of secured and unsecured creditors; the trustee’s avoiding powers, exemptions, discharge of debts and the treatment of executory contracts. The basic concepts underlying the 1978 Bankruptcy Code such as discharge, reorganization and equitable distribution are also investigated.

Elder Law
LAW 6717 Elder Law (2-3). This course covers such areas as income tax provisions of special interest to senior citizens, Social Security, pension plan distributions, Medicare and Medicaid coverage, long-term care and nursing home admission, powers-of-attorney regarding health care proxies and financial/legal matters, guardianship, and ethical considerations in advising elderly clients. The emphasis is on understanding federal statutory provisions that affect the care, comfort, and financial security of persons as they live longer, to permit informed advising and sensitive planning.

Estate and Gift Tax
LAW 6621 Estate and Gift Tax (2-3). This course covers federal estate and gift taxes and their impact on gratuitous property transactions during life and at death. The course includes brief consideration of the tax on generation skipping transfers. Prerequisites: Federal Income Tax, Wills and Trusts.

Estate Planning
LAW 6450 Estate Planning (3). This course will explore the theories and skills involved in the estate planning process. Topics include the estate planning engagement, information gathering, identification of client objectives, development of remedial and conventional estate plans, and selection of fiduciaries. Prerequisites: Federal Income Tax, and Wills and Trusts.

Federal Income Tax
LAW 6600 Federal Income Tax (3). This course offers an introduction to the fundamental principles of federal income taxation, particularly as applied to individuals, including the concepts of gross income, identification of the proper taxpayer, deductions, income tax accounting, capital gains and losses, deferred payment sales and non-recognition transactions. Consideration will be given to issues of tax policy and tax planning techniques.

Health Law
LAW 6720 Health Law (2-3). This is a study of numerous topics, including national health care programs, health care financing, reimbursement, licensing and accreditation, hospital organization, physician and patient autonomy, antitrust law, quality of care and medical malpractice, and ethical issues related to availability of health care and services.

Immigration Law
LAW 6264 Immigration Law (2-3). This course examines the major aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The interrelationship between the administrative agencies empowered to execute the Immigration and Nationality Act’s mandate will be studied. Major attention will be focused on the immigrant and nonimmigrant visa systems, political asylum and refugees, exclusion and deportation of the foreign-born, and naturalization. Policy implications of the statute and judicial interpretations are addressed.

Seminar: Citizenship and Immigration
LAW 6936 Seminar: Citizenship and Immigration. This seminar involves analyzing the construction and interpretation of the law of citizenship as well as the laws relating to national immigration policy, as specific instances of wider themes concerning democratic theory, social inclusion, hegemony, class, and race. The course will necessarily deal with the intersection of, on the one hand, citizenship law, immigration law, public international law, and constitutional law and, on the other hand, theoretical perspectives based on classical and enlightenment philosophy, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, Diaspora literature, and social theory generally. Students are expected to and will produce a final paper of publishable quality. Our learning will be achieved by having the students broken up into groups, ideally representing differing interest groups and factions, with an aim at developing solutions for some of the more controversial issues of the day.

Comparative Family Law
LAW 6254 Comparative Family Law (2-3). This course will entail the study of U.S. and other countries’ domestic relations laws, including laws governing marriage, divorce, and children.
Experiential Courses

Ediberto Román, Professor of Law

Phyllis Diane Kotey, Director of Externship Programs

Cyra Akila Choudhury, Associate Professor of Law

Mary Gundrum, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor

Laverne Pinkney, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor