The course is intended to provide an introduction to the legal regulation of the family in Canadian and provincial law. The course is divided into six sections in order to facilitate an examination of the creation of the family unit, the regulation of the ongoing family, and the problems of family breakdown.
The first three classes present an introduction to various definitions of the family and provides relevant sociological and demographic context to the range of viable definitions. An overview of the seminal issues and tensions in family law will be canvassed. The introductory materials also cover the constitutional dimensions of family law.
The introductory materials are followed by a series of classes on the creation of the family. Several weeks of classes will cover adult relationship formation (including marriage) and the creation of parent-child relationships including adoption and reproductive technologies.
This is followed by a series of classes on the dissolution of the family. It is in this section that students will be exposed to the technicalities of divorce, along with topics such as the private ordering of dissolution (via mechanisms such as contract, mediation, and collaborative lawyering).
The fifth section covers the consequences of dissolution for adults by an examination of property division on dissolution, dealings with the matrimonial home, and spousal support.
The sixth and final section of the course deals with the consequences of family dissolution for children and covers issues such as custody and access, and child support.
In examining the rights and responsibilities of family members, we will explore questions such as: What is a family? What is a spouse? What is a parent? The answers to these questions are no longer as settled as they once seemed. We will consider the law’s answer to these questions, and the extent to which the legal regulation of the family is responding to changing and diverse family forms. Attention will be given to the issues of gender, race and class.
The course will be taught from a critical and policy-oriented perspective. The course emphasizes the role of law in defining and enforcing family arrangements, and the rights and responsibilities of family members. The course pays particular attention to law reform and policy choices in the legal regulation of the family in Ontario. The objective of the course is to provide a social, political and economic context within which legislative policies and judicial approaches can be understood and critically evaluated.