The Present and Future of European Family Law
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The Present and Future of European Family Law

Jens M. Scherpe

The Present and Future of European Family Law explores the essence of European family law – and what its future may be. It compares and analyses existing laws and court decisions, identifies trends in legislation and jurisprudence, and also forecasts (and in some cases proposes) future developments. It establishes that while there is, at present, no comprehensive European family law, elements of an ‘institutional European family law’ have been created through decisions by the European Court on Human Rights and by the Court of Justice of the European Union as well as other EU instruments. At the same time an ‘organic European family law’ is beginning to emerge. The laws in many European jurisdictions have developed similarly and have ‘grown together’, not only as a result of the aforementioned institutional pressures, but also as a result of societal developments, and comparable reactions to medical and societal advances and changes. Hence there already is a body of institutional and organic European family law, and it will continue to grow.
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Chapter 3: Organic European family law

Jens M. Scherpe


As outlined in the introduction (see 1 above), this section looks at the ‘organically grown’ European family law. Of course, one of the reasons for these nationally/domestically ‘grown’ family laws also being European family law is the direct and indirect impact of the institutions as described above and more generally in Volume I of this book set. In that sense there is an overlap between the ‘institutional’ and the ‘organic’ European family law. But there are other reasons for common developments and what – arguably – is a convergence of certain elements of family law in European jurisdictions, namely similar societal developments, resulting in similar legal challenges and similar legal responses. This section attempts to identify common patterns, common approaches, and common developments, but unlike the European family law discussed in the previous section on ‘institutional family law’, and particularly in the subsection on direct impact, there is room for much greater divergence of family law development if the development is ‘organically grown’. There will be many sprouts, not all of them growing at the same speed, and some not even growing at all. Some of these tentative plants will find themselves in the shadow of other, bigger plants and will therefore be stunted or just wither away. So when in this section European family law is identified it cannot – and is not meant to – claim to represent the family law in all European jurisdictions.

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