Children and Family Law

  • What We Do

    The Children and Family Law focus area explores issues unique to children, families, and domestic relationships. As the legal definition of a family changes, students will explore the creation, recognition, and dissolution of families, as well as child advocacy, elder law, and estates and trusts.

  • Get Involved

    Students interested in Children and Family Law should consider participating in the Chance at Childhood Clinic, where law students work alongside social work students to provide legal representation to children, advocating for their rights and best interests. Students in the Immigration Law Clinic often represent children as well, particularly in cases of unaccompanied minors. One of the main projects of the Indian Law Clinic involves the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), primarily as a part of the ICWA Defense Project. Another opportunity to get involved is through our Moot Court program, which sends a team of students to a competition in child welfare each year. Outside of class, the student-run Family Law Society also provides a way for students to explore careers and community projects associated with family law.

    Below are some examples of our courses related to Children and Family Law. For more courses and information, please review the detailed curriculum guide.

    • American Indian Children & the Law
    • Basic Income Taxation
    • Basic Will Drafting
    • Chance at Childhood Clinic
    • Client Counseling and Interviewing
    • Domestic Violence
    • Education Law
    • Family Law: Marriage & Divorce
    • Family Law: Child, Family and the State
    • Immigration Law Clinic
    • Indian Law Clinic
    • Juvenile Law
    • Matrimonial Practice
    • Negotiation
    • Trusts & Estates
  • Who We Are


    Tiffani Darden
    Associate Professor of Law
    Professor Darden teaches and writes in the areas of civil procedure, juvenile law, and equal protection. In 2014, Professor Darden received the prestigious Lilly Teaching Fellowship, and she used the opportunity to think about the best way to teach Civil Procedure to first-year law students.

    Melanie Jacobs
    Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Graduate Programs & Professor of Law
    Dean Jacobs is an internationally-recognized expert in family law. She shares her enthusiasm for family law with MSU Law students, showing them the broader relationship between law, policy, and culture. In 2006, Dean Jacobs was awarded a Lilly Teaching Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding teaching.

    Cynthia Lee Starnes
    Professor of Law & The John F. Schaefer Chair in Matrimonial Law
    Professor Starnes’ scholarship focuses on the intersection of family law, partnership law, and feminist theory. She works with community groups dedicated to law reform. Professor Starnes was named an MSU Outreach and Engagement Senior Fellow for her scholarly work toward community change.


    Sheena M. Oxendine Hunt
    Attorney, Locklear, Jacobs, Hunt & Brooks
    2010 | Pembroke, NC
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Sociology and minor in American Indian Studies

    Attending MSU College of Law was one of the best decisions I have made for my future.