European Family Law Volume II
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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.
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Chapter 15: The changing concept of ‘family’ and challenges for family law in Switzerland

Ingeborg Schwenzer and Tomie Keller


In Switzerland family law is regulated in the Swiss Civil Code which came into force in 1912. This was the first uniform federal codification. It remained almost untouched for 60 years. Since the 1970s, however, Swiss family law has been amended and reformed step by step. The first step was the rules on adoption of children in 1973, followed by the general rules on the law of children in 1978 and the rules on the law of marriages in 1988. The new rules on divorce law entered into force in 2000, and have since been revised twice. Major changes relating to registered partnership for same-sex couples as well as to domestic violence were enacted in 2007. Family law proceedings have been addressed by the Swiss Code of Civil Procedure which came into force in 2011. The law on protection of adults as well as the law relating to names and citizenship have been revised as of 2013. Most recently, the new law on parental responsibility entered into force on 1 July 2014 and the revision of child support as well as of pension splitting have been adopted. Important legal changes relating to family law are still pending or must still be addressed in the future. Before turning to the legal regulation of the family, some factual background is required. As in most Western industrialised societies Switzerland has seen major socio-demographic changes during the last decades.

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