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Legal & Law Programs ►Family Law Professional Certificate Program with Externship


Program includes National Certification & an Externship Opportunity



The Family Law Professional

The practice of family law examines state regulation of sexual and marital relationships, including the delicate balance of family privacy against state intervention in the marital relationship. Litigating around the institution of marriage and family that is most personal to individuals, family law brings to light a number of issues that affect peoples’ lives at a very deep level. Further, family law also covers principles governing child custody and visitation, child support, and the regulation of non-traditional relationships as they pose a variety of questions about what a “family” is under the law.


The Family Law Professional Program

Covering these intriguing and recently developing issues, this program provides an overview of family law. Students will explore fundamental topics including marriage, divorce, annulment, property division, parenthood, adoption, custody, support, and family violence as well as emerging areas such as legal recognition of non-marital families and assisted reproductive technology. Students will study all of these points with special attention to the legal principles, ethical issues, research, interviewing, discovery, drafting, and other essential practice skills that make up the work product surrounding this field.

For those students looking toward law school or who are interested in the paralegal profession, this program offers an incredibly useful and realistic look into the actual work that lawyers and legal professionals do every day. Examining the initial organization, operation and potential dissolution of a family unit, the Family Law program addresses premarital controversies, capacity to marry and the formalities of marriage in light of the rights and duties of marital partners, various grounds for divorce, annulment and separation, spousal support and basic issues of property distribution.

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Describe tasks paralegals perform as members of a family law team
  • Perform research on issues related to family law cases
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to premarital agreements
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to marriage
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to annulment
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to non-marital families
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to parenthood
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to adoption
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to family violence
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to divorce
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to discovery and financial statements
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to child custody
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to child support
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to spousal support
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to property division
  • Interpret the major legal issues related to separation agreements
  • Draft family law documents
  • Propose strategies for dealing with ethical issues that arise in family law cases
  • Use Microsoft Office

INTRODUCTION TO FAMILY LAW

  • Identify the types of cases paralegals work on as members of a family law team
  • Outline the client intake process
  • Describe differences between subject matter, personal, and in rem jurisdiction
  • Identify legal resources used by paralegals to research family law issues
  • Describe the doctrine of respondeat superior
  • Describe ethical issues related to conflicts of interest and attorney-client communications
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Locate forms needed to process family law cases in your jurisdiction
  • Describe the nature, purpose, and scope of premarital agreements
  • Describe how current trends and changes in society are affecting the enforceability of premarital agreements
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to premarital agreements in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a premarital agreement

MARRIAGE

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify common legal requirements for valid ceremonial and common law marriages
  • Give examples of governmental regulation of the fundamental right to marry
  • Identify basic types of rights and benefits that flow from marriage
  • Describe how changes in state laws related to same-sex marriage are affecting family law practice
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to marriage in your jurisdiction to a case study

ANNULMENT

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify differences between annulment and divorce
  • Describe the two types of grounds for annulment that are common in many states
  • Identify defenses to and consequences of annulment
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to annulment in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a document to bring an annulment action

NONMARITAL FAMILIES

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Articulate the legal differences between cohabitation, domestic partnership, civil union, and marriage
  • Describe the common elements of a cohabitation agreement
  • Identify forms of relief available to cohabiting partners when their relationship dissolves
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to nonmarital families in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a cohabitation agreement
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

PARENTHOOD

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Describe methods of establishing legal parentage
  • Outline how parenthood may be disestablished
  • Describe paternity fraud
  • Describe issues surrounding assisted reproductive technology as related to family law practice
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to parenthood in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

ADOPTION

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify the types of adoption
  • Describe the process of adoption
  • Summarize the rights of parents in the adoption context
  • Describe the nature and purpose of putative father registries
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to adoption in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a petition for adoption
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

FAMILY VIOLENCE

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify types of abuse and neglect
  • Describe remedies available to adult victims of family violence
  • Give examples of mandatory and permissive reporters in child abuse cases
  • Explain how abuse and neglect affect custody decisions
  • Describe jurisdictional issues that commonly arise in family violence cases
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to family violence in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a petition for protection from abuse

DIVORCE PROCESS

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify the major fault and no-fault grounds for divorce
  • Describe jurisdictional issues that commonly arise in divorce cases
  • Summarize the four primary methods for altering the marital status
  • Outline the basic stages of the divorce process
  • Identify common types of alternative dispute resolution
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to divorce in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a complaint for divorce and responsive documents

DISCOVERY AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify differences between formal, informal, and electronic discovery
  • Describe the primary strengths and weaknesses of the five formal methods of discovery
  • Summarize common objections to discovery requests
  • Describe the purpose and scope of financial statements
  • Outline the court’s role in the discovery process
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to discovery and financial statements in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a financial affidavit
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

CHILD CUSTODY

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Describe the common legal standards for custody decisions
  • Identify types of child custody
  • Identify factors courts consider when making custody decisions
  • Describe the role of the guardian ad litem and other advocates for children in the context of custody decisions
  • Summarize how courts are increasing recognition of the rights of third parties in child custody cases
  • Describe jurisdictional issues that commonly arise in child custody cases
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to child custody in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a parenting plan

CHILD SUPPORT

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Explain the role of Title IV-D agencies in child support cases
  • Identify differences between child support and spousal support
  • Describe factors courts consider when establishing and modifying child support orders
  • Describe jurisdictional issues that commonly arise in child support cases
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to child support in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a motion for temporary child support
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

SPOUSAL SUPPORT

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Describe types of spousal support
  • Identify the common elements of a spousal support provision in a separation agreement
  • Describe differences between spousal support and property division
  • Describe factors courts consider when awarding spousal support
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to spousal support in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft an alimony provision for a separation agreement

PROPERTY DIVISION

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify differences between separate and marital property
  • Describe differences between community property and equitable distribution approaches to property division
  • Identify factors courts consider when making property division decisions
  • Describe jurisdictional issues that commonly arise in property division cases
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to property division in your jurisdiction to a case study
  • Draft a proposed property settlement
  • Propose appropriate actions in response to hypothetical ethical dilemmas

SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

  • Conduct research related to family law case studies
  • Identify the common components of a separation agreement
  • Describe differences between a merged and surviving separation agreement
  • Give examples of problems that arise related to separation agreements
  • Apply rules, procedures, statutes, and case law related to separation agreements in your jurisdiction to a case study

Education and National Certifications

  • Students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED.
  • There are no state approval and/or state requirements associated with this program.
  • There is a National Certification exam available to students who successfully complete this program:
    • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Exam.

National Certification

Upon successful completion of this Auburn University program, students would be eligible to sit for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam. Although there are no state approval, state registration or other state requirements for this program, students who complete this program at Auburn University will be prepared and are eligible to sit for this national certification exam. Students who complete this program are encouraged to complete the externship option with their program. Students who complete this program can and do sit for the MOS national certification exams and are qualified, eligible and prepared to do so. Auburn University works with each student to complete the exam application and register the student to take their national certification exam.

Externship / Hands on Training / Practicum

Although not a requirement, once students complete the program, they have the ability to participate in an externship and/or hands on practicum so as to practice the skills necessary to perform the job requirements of a professional in this field. Students will be assisted with completing a resume and/or other requirements necessary to work in this field. All students who complete this program are eligible to participate in an externship and will be placed with a participating organization near their location. Auburn University works with national organizations and has the ability to place students in externship opportunities nationwide.