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Penny Booth: The same the world over?

Date:15 DEC 2010

Penny in SerbiaAt the confluence of the Danube and the Sava Rivers in the Balkans, indeed, approaching 2,000 metres up a mountain in Serbia, what are the concerns of family law? Here I am at a conference held in the Kopaonik resort by the National Jurists Association in Serbia - summer activities in the appropriate season, covered in thick and beautiful snow right now in winter and just starting the skiing season. All sorts of areas covered - not just family law - with a focus on what they refer to as ‘natural law' where family law is within the law of personality and medical law sessions.

Are the concerns the same?

Actually, there are many similarities in concerns revealed at these conferences and the opportunities to discuss them with groups from around the world (America, Brazil, Russia, Turkey among them) but mainly from Europe and especially the Balkan region is helpful because it allows you to see that other countries have similar concerns and you get to consider different approaches to solutions and ameliorations of family law problems and difficulties. One has the distinct impression that concerns in family law really do have the international flavour one had always suspected. The topics of the papers being presented and published indicate a focus on families and infertility, Hague Convention rights, obligations to support minor children, criminal activity (and how to deal with it) by children, the Council of Europe and powers of attorney, matrimonial property regimes, minority differences, divorce under Jewish law, adultery, sexual exploitation of children, a variety of reforms of matrimonial law in a variety of countries, contact with children by parents not living with them, health care for children, men as victims of domestic violence, special guardianship and prenuptial contracts and the divorce regime. Who would not find similarities with domestic family law concerns?

The legal systems may differ, the regimes for dealing with problems may have a slightly different focus, but the concerns here reflect international concerns about dealing with hard problems and intractable situations; judges will still play Solomon with a heavy heart, parents will still play the custody of the ‘toast rack' game, the languages may differ and the legal culture may have a different flavour. But we can, at least, in the mires of family law concerns, be assured that the underlying imperatives remain the same: the holistic concerns are to provide legal solutions for personal problems in domestic spheres to reduce misery and provide some reconciliation in which to conduct whatever we have of family life.

That's got to be hopeful, hasn't it?

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.