Chapter 4: The future of European family law?
This volume has identified areas in which European family law exists, either as ‘institutional’ or ‘organic’ (or a combination of both), while at the same time showing the continuing diversity of the family laws of Europe. To me that is not a contradiction. There is room for diversity within the common European family law principles, some of which have been identified in this chapter as either existing or emerging. There are a few emerging themes across European jurisdictions. Behind some of them the ECtHR and the European Union (and to a certain extent national constitutional courts) and thus institutions are the main driving forces, particularly with regard to gender equality and non-discrimination (especially regarding gender and sexual orientation); others are the result of an organic growth of national family laws. Much of the discourse around the changing family laws is, perhaps of necessity, rights-based and focuses on the individual. There is also a growing emphasis on the autonomy of the individual and a withdrawal of the state (for example from the regulation of the substance of marriage and divorce), allowing the parties greater freedom to regulate their own financial and other relationships.
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