The Changing Concept of ‘Family’ and Challenges for Domestic Family Law
Edited by Jens M. Scherpe
Chapter 4: The changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for family law in Germany
German family law is codified mainly in the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch). In recent years there has been no comprehensive reform of the law in this area, however there are constant changes in statutes, judicial practice and administrative procedures. Following the principle of non-discrimination in accordance with human rights and fundamental rights under German constitutional law and European human rights law, several piecemeal reforms have strengthened or modified the rules in individual fields of law. German constitutional law guarantees among other rights and institutions the family and the welfare of children (article 6 of the Basic Law; Grundgesetz), human dignity and personal freedom (articles 1 and 2 of the Basic Law) and non-discrimination (article 3 of the Basic Law). However, European-based human rights are also having a growing impact, particularly article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to respect for private and family life. The pressure of social change can be felt in many fields of German family law. One of the main trends is the growing recognition of a diversity of lifestyles and family forms. The number of persons in non-marital cohabitation is increasing. The socio-economic situation of spouses is changing and is influencing matrimonial property and maintenance law in turn. There is growing acceptance of divorce as an enduring phenomenon in society, with focus being placed on its consequences and the supervision of the process of separation.
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