The Changing Concept of ‘Family’ and Challenges for Domestic Family Law
Edited by Jens M. Scherpe
Chapter 14: The changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for family law in Spain and Catalonia
Spanish family law has undergone a profound transformation in the last decade. The same challenges faced by other jurisdictions in regulating family relations have been on the agenda of the Spanish legislature, which has handled them well. Since 2005, Spain has enacted new legislation regulating, among other things, the right to divorce, same-sex marriage, custody of children, the economic consequences of divorce, assisted reproductive techniques, international adoption, change of legal gender, the law relating to names, and cohabitation. In all these areas the law has moved forward, advancing individual rights and contributing to citizens’ welfare by removing inequalities and barriers to the right to the free development of the personality. This recent legislation is the product of shifting political majorities: it was the Socialist government that promoted the amendments while in power from 2004 to 2011. During this period, Spain experienced an extraordinary wave of reforms in family law, which compares only to the wave of reforms that occurred during the 1980s after the restoration of democracy. The 1978 Spanish Constitution (CE) followed the model of the post-war European constitutional framework, and set out the principles to implement a new family law in accordance with democratic standards, European fundamental rights, and international human rights treaties. The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) contributed to shaping this legislation. Nonetheless, the in-depth reform of family law has taken place in the first decade of the 21st century. These reforms have gone far beyond what an interpretation of the Constitution adapted to social changes requires.
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