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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Anna C. Mastroianni
LAW A 580
Seattle Campus

Family Law

Class description

This course presents a survey of Family Law. Topics covered include marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, property distribution, spousal support, and relationships of unmarried persons. As time permits we may also cover: separation agreements, paternity, assisted reproduction, ethics and policy issues.

Family Law generally encompasses a broad range of topics, as evidenced by the required text. It is impossible to give adequate treatment to all of these issues in a one-quarter, 4-credit class. Therefore, some subjects are not covered here at all, and others are given a more cursory treatment.

To learn about adoption, third-party custody, the fundamental rights of parents and the power of the state in child abuse and neglect proceedings, I highly recommend taking Child Advocacy with Professor Kelly and enrolling in the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic (CAYAC) with Professor Ambrose.

To experience more than cursory treatment of community property (a WA state bar topic), I highly recommend taking Community Property offered by Professor Boxx or Professor Andrews.

Student learning goals

To consider the purposes and functions of family law and why the state is interested in regulating the family;

To consider how and why the family and family law have changed over the years and how the law is changing today in response to the demands of groups who have been excluded from its protections;

To obtain a working understanding of the policies underlying substantive family law relating to the formation and dissolution of marriage;

To contemplate the lawyer's role as an advocate for people who are in personal crisis;

To put family law in context by considering information from other disciplines, including the social sciences, psychology, and economics.

General method of instruction

Lecture, in class problems, designated expert Q&A

Recommended preparation

- First year law courses - The textbook for the course is Areen, Spindelman & Tsoukalas, Family Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2012). The print version of the text may either be purchased through the University bookstore or rented directly from the publisher (http://store.westlaw.com/areen-spindelman-tsoukalas-family-law-6th/181484/18683123/productdetail.) The publisher website indicates that the “rental of a print book includes access to the Online Book, which will terminate when you return the rental book. . . . Online Books are not downloadable and will not be accessible during an open book exam….”

- Additional course readings and web-references will be posted to the course website. You may need to use your UW NetID and password to access the materials.

Class assignments and grading

Final exam, class participation

The textbook for the course is Areen, Spindelman & Tsoukalas, Family Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2012). The print version of the text may either be purchased through the University bookstore or rented directly from the publisher (http://store.westlaw.com/areen-spindelman-tsoukalas-family-law-6th/181484/18683123/productdetail.) The publisher website indicates that the “rental of a print book includes access to the Online Book, which will terminate when you return the rental book. . . . Online Books are not downloadable and will not be accessible during an open book exam….”

Additional course readings and web-references will be posted to the course website. You may need to use your UW NetID and password to access the materials.

The course grade will be based on: (1) Final Examination (90%); (2) class participation as Designated Expert (10%) This course is subject to the mandatory Law School Grading System, http://www.law.washington.edu/Students/Academics/Grading.aspx


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Anna C. Mastroianni
Date: 11/25/2012