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Convergence and divergence of divorce laws in Europe [2006] CFLQ 307

Date:20 SEP 2011

The question whether family law within Europe has been and is converging remains controversial. The different appreciation of the convergence/divergence tendency often has to do with the examination of too short time-spans. Therefore in this article the convergence question will be approached via the search for the common core of the law on divorce throughout the last half-millennium. This search reveals a clear tendency towards the modernisation and liberalisation of divorce from the time of the Protestant Reformation up to the present day. There is, however, no evidence that this modernisation is, on a long-term basis, accompanied by a diminishing of the differences between divorce laws. Therefore, it will be argued that deriving a tendency of convergence from the ongoing process of modernisation entails a patent shortcut. Thus, it is not very probable that in the foreseeable future the harmonisation of family laws will be achieved by means of spontaneous convergence.

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