J.D. Child & Family Law Emphasis Area Requirements

UMKC School of Law Emphasis in Child and Family Law

The UMKC School of Law Emphasis in Child and Family Law prepares students to serve the whole family -- from infants to elders -- and maintains a unique collaborative and interdisciplinary framework. The emphasis program requires that students master the basic doctrine and legal theories involved when the legal system interacts with families. In addition, however, students undertake study exposing them to the perspectives of other disciplines such as psychology and social work. Students study the unique ethical dilemmas of this area of law and gain hands-on experience in representing children and families in the program's clinical components. Finally, all students in the emphasis complete an in-depth capstone research and writing project and a portfolio presentation.

Admission Requirements

Students may apply after completing their second semester (or 29 credit hours).  Students who are close to completing the hourly requirements may petition for early admission for good cause shown.

An application form will be available and must be submitted by the deadline announced by the Child and Family Law Faculty. Decisions as to whether a student will be admitted to the Emphasis in Child and Family Law will be made in the semester in which the student applies.

Procedure and Criteria for Selection:

The Child and Family Law Faculty will select the students to be admitted to the program. Criteria to be considered may include previous general academic performance in law school, previous academic performance in courses seen as particularly relevant to the emphasis area, level of interest in serving children or families, and availability of an advisor to advise and supervise the student.

The Child and Family Law Faculty is authorized to make appropriate adjustments in the deadlines for part-time students or other students whose schedules do not substantially conform to the six-semester paradigm.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from this program will:

  • Research, identify issues, analyze, and apply core legal doctrines relating to families and children
  • Prepare professional letters, pleadings, agreements, and other legal documents necessary for child and family law practice
  • Speak and listen respectfully and effectively with families and children, counsel their clients competently, and interact effectively on their behalf with lawyers and other professionals
  • Identify and resolve ethical issues and act in conformity with the rules of professional regulation
  • Demonstrate entry-level proficiency in client counseling, and courtroom advocacy.

General Requirements

Curriculum Requirements

Of the 15 hours required for the emphasis, the student must complete

LAW 8751Family Law3
LAW 8752SChild & Family Services Clinic1-6
LAW 8733Children In The Law2-3
LAW 8751SFamily Violence2-3
The remainder of the required credit hours from other core curriculum courses or a list of elective courses (listed below)

Prerequisite Course

All students in the emphasis must take Family Law. Because this foundational course is a prerequisite for most other courses in the emphasis, students accepted for the emphasis will be given a priority in enrollment in the course.

LAW 8751Family Law3

Jurisprudence Requirement

Students must fulfill their Jurisprudence requirement through Gender and Justice unless approval is given for another course by the Child and Family Law Faculty.

LAW 8714Gender and Justice2-3

Clinical Requirement

All students in the Child and Family Law program must successfully complete the Child & Family Services Clinic.

LAW 8752SChild & Family Services Clinic1-6

Elective Courses

LAW 8590Special Topics1-6
LAW 8617RElder Law For Estate Planners1
LAW 8733EElder Law2-3
LAW 8733RJuvenile Offenders & The Law2-3
LAW 8734Mediation2
LAW 8738Immigration Law And Process (if approved by Child and Family Law advisor)2-3
LAW 8746RIndependent Study1-3
LAW 8752GGuardian Ad Litem Workshop2
LAW 8752RFamily Law Practice2
LAW 8778American Academy Matrimonial Lawyers Board2
LAW 8815RDisabilities And The Law2-3
LAW 8815SLeadership In Disability Studies: A Multidisciplinary Approach3-4
LAW 8870REducation Law: Government & Legal Aspects Of Education2-3
LAW 8908Family Tax Law1
Field Placement courses with the permission of the Child and Family Law Faculty
Miniterm courses if approved by the Child and Family Law Faculty. In the past, these have included: Poverty Law, Violence Against Women Act, Law & Human Trafficking, and Family Law and Film

Any other law school course if, before beginning the course, the students obtains written approval from the Child and Family Law Faculty. Such approval shall not be granted unless the Child and Family Law Faculty find that, in light of the student's other courses and the student's goals in the emphasis study, the course will advance the student's study of Child and Family Law to an extent equivalent to other Child and Family Law electives.

Courses may be added or deleted from the lists contained in the sections above with approval of the Child and Family Law Faculty.

Writing Requirement

A paper on a Family Law related topic satisfied through:

A seminar course, R & W (LAW 8746), Independent Study (LAW 8746R) or a Journal note/comment for Law Review or the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Ethics Requirement

Satisfied through separate assessment focused on ethical issues in family representation

Graduation Requirements

For a student to be recognized as having graduated with an Emphasis in Child and Family Law, students must have

  • timely completed all emphasis requirements
  • made application at the time of graduation
  • received the approval of a member of the Child and Family Law faculty of the student’s portfolio, and
  • earned a 3.0 grade point in emphasis course work (required and elective courses). This grade-point average shall be computed considering all Required and Elective Courses in the emphasis taken by the student, including any that exceed the minimum hour requirements for the Emphasis

Important Note: Because the School is committed to keeping up with changes in the practice of law, the requirements for emphasis areas may change during the course of a student's enrollment at the School. The requirements at the time a student is granted admission into the emphasis area are the requirements that govern completion of the student's emphasis requirements. For possible revised requirements that will take effect with the next academic year, ask the emphasis area advisors for the most recent iteration of requirements.  A course not listed above can meet emphasis area requirements if approved by the emphasis area advisors, Yvette Lindgren, Mary Kay O’Malley, and Barbara Glesner Fines.