European Family Law Volume I

European Family Law Volume I

The Impact of Institutions and Organisations on European Family Law

Edited by Jens M. Scherpe

This four-volume set maps the emerging European family law. It is intended to serve as a resource for anyone interested in this area of law, as well as a basis for teaching on comparative and international family law courses. The first volume examines the impact of institutions and organisations on European family law. While there is no European body that could actually legislate definitively on family law, there are some institutions that have a direct impact on European family law, while the impact of others is more indirect. In the second volume the changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for domestic family law are analysed in 21 different jurisdictions, in 16 chapters. All contributions look at ‘horizontal’ family law (the law concerning the relationships between adults), ‘vertical’ family law (the law concerning the relationships of adults and children) as well an ‘individual’ family law (the law on names and gender identity). In the third volume the contributions take a comparative view on specific issues from a European perspective. The fourth volume, which works as a stand-alone monograph, draws on all of the previous chapters, and discusses the present and future of European family law. It establishes areas where ‘institutional’ European family law exists – in the sense that there are binding legal rules for all European jurisdictions – for example, as a result of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights. It also identifies areas where, as a result of common legal and social developments for ‘horizontal’, ‘vertical’ and ‘individual’ family law, an ‘organic’ European family law is emerging and suggests how family laws in Europe are going to develop in the future.

Chapter 8: The impact of religion on European family law

Jane Mair

Subjects: law - academic, european law, family law


Historically, churches, clans and cultural groups administered matters related to birth and death, partnering and procreation, property and inheritance, and the other myriad affairs that we today call family law. Not so long ago, a chapter addressing the impact of religion on European family law could safely have been assumed to be about the past. Religion, most obviously in the form of canon law, is well known to have played an important role in the historical development of family law throughout Europe and, even when canon law itself was replaced by civil legal rules, the underlying concepts and values retained their influence as foundation blocks for modern regulatory frameworks. There was a time when the regulation of families was quite properly within the sphere of religion. But while religion clearly mattered in the past, in modern Europe it had long since lost priority within the contemporary legal regulation of families and in academic family law debate. Those jurisdictions where religion openly continued to shape aspects of the legal framework were considered as unusual and interesting, but certainly not reflective of mainstream, family law in Europe. For the majority, family law had become characterised by secularity and driven by equality and individualism. Against that background, the speed and extent of the re-emergence of religion as a major concern has been quite shocking.

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