European Family Law Volume III
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European Family Law Volume III

Family Law in a European Perspective

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 8: Parental responsibility in a European perspective

Josep Ferrer-Riba


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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