Year after year, it has been consistently authoritative, with much of its contents proving something of a revelation, as it has always aimed at including the latest and most important developments in family law.
‘One of the great benefits of this annual survey of family law,’ says the editor, Margaret Brinig, ‘is the opportunity to see the panorama of challenges across the globe.’
This new edition emanates from this year’s ISFL World Congress in Amsterdam on the theme of ‘family law and family realities’. The core question here is whether national family laws adequately reflect the changing realities of family life in a world in which family law is in a state of flux.
As the book reveals to a significant extent, family laws tend to reflect the mores, values, customs and generally, the social history and prevailing cultural attitudes of individual regions and countries – some receptive to change, others not as much.
Of particular interest to UK-based lawyers are the chapters on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and the US. The development of note in the necessarily lengthy chapter on England and Wales, which centres on mental incapacity and personal relationships. Other countries featured include China, France, Italy, Portugal, South Korea, Portugal, South Africa and several more.
The long list of topics in this volume features everything from adoption and assisted reproduction, to child protection and maintenance, to co-motherhood, international child abduction, polygamy and marital property, to domestic violence and succession law – and this is only a summary of the impressively diverse range of subject matter that the book contains.
Interestingly, the chapter from the US concludes that, because of various seismic changes in family structures that have now become commonplace, ‘this review suggests why the law traditionally has strongly favoured formal traditional family relations because comparatively, they are (the) most stable and beneficial'.
For comparative lawyers as well as family practitioners, this book offers much to contemplate – and it’s easy to navigate too; always an important consideration for an influential work of reference like this one.