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 9: Adoption in a European perspective

Claire Fenton-Glynn


Europe is a continent with diverse traditions concerning adoption. The prevalence of adoption varies greatly throughout: while in each of England, France and Italy there are around 3,000 to 4,000 adoptions per year, in each of Austria, Albania, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia and Iceland there are less than 100. Further, while some countries have a strong tradition of domestic adoption, others focus predominantly on inter-country placements, either as sending (for example, Russia and Ukraine) or receiving (for example, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway) states. This diversity may go some way to explaining why the European Convention on the Adoption of Children of 1967, and its revised 2008 version, have been so ill received, obtaining only 16 and seven ratifications or accessions respectively. On the other hand, adoption has been an area in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has generated a considerable body of jurisprudence, and in relation to the procedural aspects of adoption has established important safeguards to protect the rights of children, birth parents and prospective adopters involved in the practice. However, with regard to the substantive law, there remains considerable variation among European states, and the Court has been cautious in its approach, leaving a wide margin of appreciation to domestic authorities. This chapter will consider the jurisprudence of the Court in three principal areas of adoption practice. First, it will discuss how consent to adoption is regulated, and the procedures put in place to protect both the birth parents, and the adopted child.

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