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Online Family Law and Related Courses
The descriptions here are for some of the popular family law courses offered online.
- Family Law Course: This class explores the documentation and laws regarding divorce, custodial rights, guardianship, violence in families, settlements and child support. Specific topics may include the right to die, surrogate parenting, abortion, adoption, alternative marriages and fetal tissue transfer.
- Juvenile Law Course: This online course provides paralegal students with a look at juvenile delinquency and the law as it regards children, since paralegals must understand the proceedings of family court, foster care, probation officer duties and obtaining evidence. Students may research abuse and protection laws and how the 14th amendment protects children.
- Civil Litigation Course: Paralegal students use this online course to learn the ins and outs of civil court hearings. They learn the role of paralegals in court proceedings, such as how to conduct client interviews, obtain evidence and visit the home. Students also learn to draft motion papers and fill out pleadings.
- Wills and Estates Course: This course can be taken at any point in a paralegal program due to its introductory nature. Students use this course to learn the basics of estates, probates, wills and life insurance, gaining an understanding of the chain of succession and estate planning tools.
- Women and Law Course: This online course covers topics that confront women, such as reproductive rights, sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual discrimination. For a family-law perspective, alternative marriages, divorce rights, custodial rights and women as surrogate mothers may also be discussed.
- Child Welfare and Policy Course: This online course discusses government policy regarding child welfare including mandatory reporting, best interests of the child, and the laws covering state intervention into families based on reports of abuse or neglect. This course also covers permanency planning and termination of parental rights.
- Family Law and Justice Course: This course focuses on the treatment of the family within the criminal justice system. The curriculum covers the rights and protections of family members, as well as legal cases related to divorce, custody, spousal abuse and child abuse.
- Child Custody Course: This interdisciplinary course focuses specifically on child custody laws. Students learn about the psychological effects of divorce on children, as well as mediation and litigation procedures that are used in legal custody cases.
When studied online, family law is usually part of a paralegal certificate program; advanced or specialist paralegal certificate programs may focus specifically on family law. Online courses that may be useful to paralegals working with families include juvenile law, trusts and probates, civil court proceedings and women's laws. The topic of family law may also be covered within broader bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice. A few schools also offer standalone courses in topics related to family law that confer continuing education credits.
Some law schools offer online family law courses for law students, though it's important to note that no fully online Juris Doctor programs are currently approved by the American Bar Association. There are a very small number of programs that offer a partially-online degree, though these are intended for future law practitioners rather than legal assistants or paralegals.
Online courses related to family law are available for individuals who are interested in pursuing a variety of legal careers. There are broad overview courses, as well as those that focus specifically on the implementation of family law in relation to certain populations.