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HDFS 403 - Families in the Legal Environment

  • 3 credits
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The intersection of individuals, children, families and the legal system, including the balance between the right to privacy and government intervention, and social disparities in the legal system. Topics include: establishing the legal parent relationship, adoption, the rights of children and parents, marriage, divorce, dependency and neglect, family violence, disability and estate planning, juvenile delinquency, legalities of gender, and landlord/tenant and housing policy.


Course Learning Objectives:

  • Be familiar with the legal system and parameters within which the family and its individual members operate.
  • Recognize elementary legal issues in family law and other subjects covered.
  • Understand legal constraints governing the establishment and dissolution of the family unit and the legal relationship between parents and children.
  • Recognize certain situations in which it is appropriate to seek legal advice.
  • Be aware of alternatives to litigation alternative dispute resolution processes in the family law context.


Completion of 60 credits

Important Information

All prerequisites must be completed or consent from the instructor given prior to enrollment.

If you register for this course after the start of the term, please contact the instructor at the time of registration. By contacting the instructor, you ensure you are added to the CANVAS section as soon as possible and have access to the course and details about the class requirements.

Sudents are required to observe a courtroom proceeding. More details will be provided in the class.


Holly Panetta
Holly Panetta

9702155974 |

Holly Panetta is an attorney who works primarily with families and children in Colorado. She provides mediation services and is routinely court-appointed as a Child and Family Investigator ("CFI") to make recommendations regarding allocation of parental responsibilities. She previously served as director of the Office of Dispute Resolution and as the Court Programs Manager for the State Court Administrator's Office.

In addition to "Families in the Legal Environment,"Holly Panetta also teaches mediation and public policy courses for the CSU School of Social Work.

Holly Panetta attended law school at the University of Denver and received her Juris Doctor in 2003. She holds a Master's of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, both from Colorado State University.