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Family Law Dissertation Topics & Ideas
This page contains a selection of 12 dissertation topics and ideas on family law. You are welcome to use these topics to help you create your own law dissertation topic.
1. Should Lord Lester’s Cohabitation Bill 2009 become law?
Lord Lester’s Bill was developed to give greater certainty of cohabiting couples on separation, because of the growing models of what constitutes a “family unit” has changed. There are some significant problems with the Bill, because it has been “watered down” to reinforce traditionalist views. Thus, this examination will look at the issues surrounding cohabitation, the suitability of the Bill; as well as recommend if the Bill should be implemented into law.
2. Is the Welfare Principle sufficient enough to deal with the rights of the child in family law?
The welfare principle is at the heart of English family law when determining the rights and interests of the child. Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 states:
“When a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child it shall balance the interests of the child with those of the parent, attaching particular importance to the interests of the child which depending on their nature and seriousness may override those of the parent?”
Thus, the interests of the child and the family may be identified as secondary to other interests. The following examination will explore the welfare principle and to what extent it retains the patriarchy of the judiciary, which will be juxtaposed with a pro-child’s rights approach.
3. Is the definition of a parent sufficient or does it still heavily relies on the concept of the nuclear family?
This examination will explore the definition of a parent and subsequently the definition of the family. It will identify to what extent same sex couples can both be parents, the role of biology (including the impact of surrogacy and egg and sperm donation) and the role of unmarred fathers. Thus, a case law review will be undertaken of English and ECHR case law to determine the evolution of the law. Finally, the examination will focus on whether English law is sufficiently defining the parent, or should a broader view, such as Canada, be taken.
4. Should the wishes of the Child play a more important role in Residence Proceedings?
This dissertation topic will challenge the traditional patriarchal view that the state knows best for the child; rather it will argue that the interests of the child need to be properly considered. Baroness Hale in Re D (A Child) (Abduction: Rights of Custody)  UKHL 51 held: “It is the child, more than anyone else, who will have to live with what the court decides”.
This judgement leaves open the possibility that there should be a wider application of children’s interests and rights; albeit it is important to stress that this judgement retains the prevalence of the welfare principle. Thus, the following topic will set forth: 1) the child’s right; 2) the traditional English approach; and 3) the rights of the parents. It will then consider whether there should be reform in the English legal approach to the child’s wishes.
5. Is there a place for a Fault-Based Divorce in the 21st Century?
There has been a historic retention of the fault based divorce, which has been cruised as creating an acrimonious process. This has led to recommendations that there should be a non-fault divorce process, which will create a model that will create solutions as opposed to conflicts. Thus, this discussion will assess the arguments that support the non-fault based divorce and compare the traditionalist views. Finally, it will set forth a number of core recommendations on the issue.
6. Should mediation be a mandatory requirement in all divorce and child custody proceedings?
The mediation process can be important to creating an atmosphere that creates solutions to potentially conflicted situations. In the case of family law divorce and child custody cases and result in drawn out and nasty court cases, which can have an adverse effect on the child. Thus, this leads one to consider whether there should be a mandatory mediation process; albeit the potential unevenness of power can create a situation where “false mediation” takes place. This raises the question on whether domestic violence and abuse concerns should be adequately explored, which is part of the Law Society Code of Practice 2004 (Family Protocol). Also, the secondary issue is that mediation should be a voluntary process. Therefore, both these core issues will be explored to identify if mediation should become a mandatory model.
7. Should there be the development of Grandparents and Close Relative rights in Family law, which will give an equal claim to visitation and residence when in the “best interests” of the child?
Family rights in the US and Canada have created a wider set of rights with regards to visitation and residence that extends past the UK model of parental rights. Thus, this examination will explore the case law developments in the UK to provide a modicum of “other interested parties” rights, which will be compared with the pro-rights model of Canada and the US. The comparative case law will then be analysed to determine if there should be a reform in English law.
8. Is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and English application a fair and rationale approach to single-parents emigrating?
This dissertation topic will explore the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which deals with international child abduction cases. The issue that this examination will explore is surrounding the legitimacy of one parent to remove the child from the English jurisdiction. There are two fundamental concerns, which are the right of the resident parent to emigrate; as compared to the non-resident parent removing the child (especially if the relationship is tenuous). The case of BT v JRT  EWHC 1169 (Fam) identified that acquiescence will not prevent the resident parent and child from emigrating. However, there is a core question of balance, the relationship of the parent and the child and the interests (wishes) of the child. Thus, one could argue in emigration cases the Hague Convention may be unduly harsh.
9. Is the law of consent sufficiently applied in English Medical law? An examination of consent with regards to competent adults, the mentally disabled (ill) and the child:
The law of consent is stringently applied in the case of competent adults; albeit the rights of the child and mentally disabled are far more eroded. Thus, the following examination will explore the case law surrounding the three groups, in order to determine if there is a sufficient balance between the three groups. It will also put forth that the competent child should be empowered; as well as mentally ill persons either through their own competence (or an advocate when necessary); rather than allowing the patriarchy of the medical and judicial establishment to determine their “best interests”.
10. Should the law on organ transplants be modified to an “opt-out” model?
Recent consultations identify that the organ transplantation model should legally enable an “opt-out” model, which means that unless a person declares against organ donation then there will be harvesting of the organs. This may raise issues about the integrity of the person’s right to have control over their body in life and death. Thus, on this basis, the medical issues and the needs of “greater good” will be juxtaposed with the individual’s legal rights over their body.
11. Is the English approach to medical negligence sufficient or is there a prevalence to protect these predominantly public bodies?
This dissertation topic will explore the duty of care in the Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee  1 WLR 582 and Bolitho v City and Hackney Health Authority  4 All ER 771 cases to determine if the patient is adequately protected from negligence medical practitioners. This discussion will also consider the model of causation that is applied, which stems from the case of Wilsher v Essex AHA  1 All ER 871. The approaches to duty and causation have been criticised as creating a model that is overly narrow, which requires reconsideration of the approach to ensure that justice for the patient is achieved. This dissertation topic will explore the traditional approaches and then determine if there has been a more liberal approach in current case law.
12. Should the law on euthanasia and/or assisted suicide be reformed?
The cases of R (on the application of Debbie Purdy) v DPP  EWHC 2565 (Admin), R (on the application of Pretty) v DPP  UKHL 61 and Pretty v United Kingdom (2002) 35 EHRR 1 have re-affirmed the English approach to assisted suicide. The result of this has limited the rights of ill and disabled persons who want to, but cannot end their own lives. The Commission on Assisted Dying’s Paper The Current Legal Status of Assisted Dying is Inadequate and Incoherent: Commission Final Report 2012 has failed to provide a comprehensive model or replacement to the current incoherence. Thus, the following examination will explore the English case, the Oregon approach and the Dutch model, in order to determine if a more persuasive approach can be taken. This discussion will also consider the moral issues that arise over this delicate subject, which has created the incoherent model that is current in place.
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