Family Law in a European Perspective
Edited by Jens M. Scherpe
Chapter 2: Divorce law in a European perspective
Even a simple glance at how divorce grounds are formally labelled in various European jurisdictions reveals quite some diversity. This picture is confirmed by the account of divorce laws in Europe provided in the 2003 Commission on European Family Law (CEFL) National Reports. This chapter gives an overview of recent developments in divorce laws in Europe, with the main focus being on analysing divorce grounds from both a formal and a functional perspective. In addition, some insight is given into the issue of administrative divorce, which is currently attracting growing interest from various legislatures. This chapter is divided into three parts following this introduction. Part 2 discusses possible reasons for the current diversity of divorce laws in Europe, along with a brief historical introduction and a deliberation on the impact of European human rights instruments on divorce law in Europe. Part 3 provides a close-up analysis, in two sections, of recent developments in divorce law. The first of these two sections examines several jurisdictions (England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Malta) and their interpretations of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’, while the second section focuses on several other jurisdictions (Sweden, Russia, Norway, Spain and Portugal) and a model law (the CEFL Principles on Divorce) that moves beyond the concept of irretrievable breakdown. Part 4 discusses and scrutinises the grounds for divorce currently co-existing in Europe, while Part 5 examines an impending challenge to the law of divorce procedure in the form of the administrative divorce.
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