Table of Contents

European Family Law Volume II

European Family Law Volume II

The Changing Concept of ‘Family’ and Challenges for Domestic 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 9: The changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for family law in the Nordic countries

Tone Sverdrup

Subjects: law - academic, european law, family law

Extract

Legal equality between husband and wife was attained in the Nordic countries in the 1920s. New groups – cohabitants and same-sex couples – have been included in the family concept since then. In the last three to four decades children have shifted from being treated as objects in the legal system to being the holders of rights. Today, attention is shifting towards the realisation of these rights, for example the right of children to be heard and to be separately represented. Equality between the sexes and the individualisation of family law has brought the judicial system deeper into the private sphere of people’s lives and with it the emergence of new issues both in horizontal and vertical family law. Currently, a total of 26 million inhabitants live in the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic countries have been affected by the same demographic changes as many other European countries: a significant increase in divorce rates after the Second World War and the rise of cohabitation at the expense of marriage. Today, about one in four of all couples are cohabitants, and the proportion of births outside marriage is more than 50 per cent. However, many cohabiting couples marry after a period of cohabitation. The marriage age for first marriage is now about 32 years for women and about 34–35 years for men.

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