Family law concerns the rights and responsibilities of individuals in the sphere of their home and intimate relationships. It regulates one of the most fundamental and important institutions in our society. The study of family law invites important policy debates (for example, abortion, same-sex marriage, division of property, and gender roles within the family) and involves the study of important theoretical issues, such as rules versus discretionary standards, state regulation versus private decision-making. It also requires attention to practical legal issues surrounding marriage, divorce, and child support and child welfare that regularly touch the lives of many Americans.
Competency in the law of the family requires substantive knowledge and skill in advising clients about sensitive personal issues. Preparing to be a good lawyer in this area requires the development of many important, transferable skills in drafting documents, fact investigation, interviewing, counseling, client communication, and advocacy.
After the required first-year courses, students may select from a broad range of offerings in the field of family law, including several clinical opportunities.
- B781: Children and the Law
- B688: Community Legal Clinic
- B563: Domestic Relations Mediation
- B740: Estate Planning
- B608: Family Law
- B691: Family and Children Mediation Clinic
- B789: Feminist Jurisprudence
- B568: Gender and the Law
- B710: Independent Clinical Project
- B771: Mediation
- B620: Negotiations
- B547: Public Interest Internship Program
- B588: Strategies in Critical Reading and Writing: Family Law
- L766: Seminar in Children and the Law
- L710: Seminar in Law and Society: Work, Family, and the Law
Student activities and opportunities
- Family Law Society connects students with lawyers and careers in this area of the law.
- The Feminist Law Forum is a student organization dedicated to gender equality within law school and the legal profession.
- The Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality regularly publishes family law related articles.
- Law Students for Reproductive Justice is an affiliate of a national organization that commits to ensuring access to sex education and reproductive health care.
- Older and Wiser Law Students (OWLS) offers support for non-traditional law students and their families.
- Protective Order Project (POP) helps victims of domestic abuse obtain civil protective orders from the court with the ultimate goal of preventing further abuse.
- The Women’s Law Caucus is a student organization focusing on women’s issues, community service, and professional development. This group hosts an Annual Charity Auction, and proceeds benefit Bloomington’s Middle Way House, a shelter for domestic violence victims, and Indiana Law’s own Protective Order Project.
- The Tenant Assistance Project provides legal help to tenants facing immediate threat of eviction.
- Students with an interest in family law can also take part in two writing competitions:
- Howard Schwab Memorial Essay Contest, conducted by the American Bar Association Section on Family Law Learn more about the Howard Schwab Memorial Essay Contest
- Annual family law writing competition, sponsored by Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Learn more about the Annual Family Law competition
Related programs at Indiana University—Bloomington
- Center for Human Growth, IU School of Education
- Institute for Family and Social Responsibility, a joint project of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the School of Social Work
- Kinsey Institute