Family Law in a European Perspective
Edited by Jens M. Scherpe
Chapter 8: Parental responsibility in a European perspective
Parental responsibility is commonly understood as a set of powers, rights and duties with regard to children that the law allocates to parents or to third persons. These powers, rights and duties are aimed at protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of children and substantially encompass the provision of personal care, education, administration of the child’s property, and exercise of legal representation. The consensus around the notion of parental responsibility extends to the idea that parental powers must be exercised for the benefit of children, taking into primary consideration the child’s best interests and respecting and furthering the child’s progressive maturity and autonomy. These widely shared understandings have been favoured and reinforced in Europe by international instruments from the Council of Europe, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the European Union, and by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). They have also been advanced by academic work in the field of family and comparative law undertaken by the Commission on European Family Law (CEFL), which has led to the publication of Principles of European Family Law Regarding Parental Responsibilities (CEFL Principles). These Principles – like those previously drafted and now being reworked at the instigation of the Council of Europe – have been designed to serve as a guide for legislatures at the national and international level and to provide a model for the harmonisation of family law in Europe.
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