European Family Law Volume I
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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.
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Chapter 4: The impact of the International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS) on European family law

Walter Pintens


The law of persons and family is part of everyday life. But certain events, such as birth, marriage, registered partnership, divorce and death, have a particular significance because they determine a person’s civil status. They define the status of a person in his family and in society. The determination of this status is only possible if those major events are registered. Therefore, states have established civil-status registers kept by civil-status registrars. Civil-status registrars very often have to deal with international cases. People travel, they study abroad, they marry abroad, they work abroad and they have children abroad. These events require civil-status registrars to confront foreign documents and therefore the application of private international law and foreign substantive law. The need for international cooperation in this area has been felt since the interbellum. As a result in 1926 an international association of civil status was founded, composed of individual civil-status registrars from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and from 1929 also from Italy. This association did not survive the Second World War. But two members of the association, Dr Stampa, Head of the Swiss Federal Status Office, and Mr Van Praag, Secretary General of the city of The Hague, were convinced that a new cooperative initiative was necessary and that it could only be successful if this cooperation were organised at the level of states, rather than between individual civil status registrars.

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