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International Survey of Family Law: 2015 Edition, The


Published on behalf of the International Society of Family Law

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TheInternational Survey of Family Law is the International Society of Family Law’s annual review ofdevelopments in family law across the world. The 2015 edition coversdevelopments in over 20 countries written by leading academics and family lawexperts. Each article is accompanied by a French language abstract.

The 2015 Survey contains contributions from a diverse selection ofcountries where there have been important developments in family law,including:

  • Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Parenting Disputes in Australia
  • Resolution of Family Disputes in Fiji and Samoa
  • Marriage and Divorce in India
  • Recent Developments in Korean Family Law
  • Protection Orders under the Mauritian Protection from Violence Act
  • Surrogacy and International Private Law in Switzerland
  • About the Society

The International Society of Family Law aims to facilitate study and discussion by sponsoring and promoting international co-operation in research on family law topics worldwide.

Click here to find out more about the society and other editions of the survey.
An appreciation by Phillip Taylore MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

If you are a family lawyer, you probably know about the International Society of Family Law. But don't worry if you don't, because now you do. Be it known that this organisation, launched at the University of Birmingham in 1973, publishes among other things, this important and up-to-the-minute annual review of significant and noteworthy developments in family law across the world.
Read the full review

Reviews of previous editions

An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

In his Preface, Professor Bill Atkin poses a fundamental question- we sometimes ask what the purpose of family law is. In many ways the main answer to this question is to be found in “The International Survey of Family Law” which is an annual review of developments in family law across the world under the auspices of the International Society of Family Law.
This year’s edition covers developments in over 20 countries written by academics and family law experts and is truly global with its wide content. Atkin says he appreciates how significant family law is for much of our existence and how his own preconceptions about the purpose and shape of family law are now challenged by what is happening elsewhere in the world and not just in the England and Wales jurisdiction. We can certainly confirm, reading this excellent survey that we find ourselves in the same position as the editor!

Atkin expands his original point asking these additional questions about family law: is it to control how we live; to empower people; to facilitate people as they sort out their personal lives; to lay down sensible ground rules for personal relationships; to reflect local culture and values; to protect the vulnerable; or is it something else or a combination of a variety of things?
Well, it is actually about all these matters and more although many of the chapters are about children, especially those who are vulnerable across the world. Bill Atkin has seen the number wishing to contribute to the survey rise to a total of 46 for this edition which reflects not just the amount of work involved but also the range which this substantive law area covers and the different countries and languages. Each contribution has a ‘resume’ or French language abstract at the beginning of chapter which is also specific to a particular country and the issues found there.

The book is just over 500 pages long with useful detailed footnotes and sub heading numbering within the main chapters. There is no index but readers will find the overview on the International Society of Family Law most informative.

One thing which will strike the reader as familiar are the issues we face in England and Wales under the subtitle “The Battle for Parenthood- Lesbian Mothers and Biological Fathers” which reflect important recent case-law studies which illustrate the development of the common law in our jurisdiction.

And then we read of events in other jurisdictions which certainly make us realise that the problems Atkin outlines with his questions in the Preface have some answers and that what we face as issues in family law here are not really much different from the problems in other jurisdictions notwithstanding all the different legal systems and approaches. Atkin’s International Survey of Family Law for 2014 does just that and is a great contribution to the Jordan Family Law library of books we depend upon for so much with our practices. Thank you."

"a valuable resource"
Family Law
    "fascinating reading; an important global snapshot for family practitioners"
     New Law Journal

"An essential publication for anyone with an interest in the international aspects of family law"
"a fascinating account of the legislative direction of various jurisdictions and is an invaluable research tool"
I am writing this the day after the news broke that the United States Supreme Court had decided in favour of gay marriage. This has brought a mix of jubilation and consternation. Sanford Katz, one of the International Society’s great elder statesmen, described it to me as ‘an historic day in the USA’. What cannot be denied is that the change to the marriage laws has been one of the most sweeping revolutions in Western family law – ever. It has happened so much more quickly than anyone imagined. The law has matched a change in popular opinion – or is it an instance of the law’s playing a role in shaping opinion?

The United States illustrates the vital role of the courts, accompanied by an interplay between the Constitution and the various federal and State legislators. In New Zealand, my own country, which follows the Westminster tradition, it was a 77 to 44 vote in Parliament in 2013 that altered the law. No constitutional challenge was possible, nor was it in Britain following a similar vote. Curiously, New Zealand’s neighbour, Australia, voted exactly the opposite way at about the same time. The Irish law, which is referred to in this edition of the Survey, took a different route. A country with a strong Catholic tradition, it voted in a referendum by nearly 2 to 1 in favour of marriage equality.

These developments in the West are not replicated in the rest of the world. Islamic, Asian, Pacific and African traditions (though not southern Africa) remain against a change in the marriage laws. Other family law issues predominate.

Apart from Ireland, same-sex marriage and allied issues are discussed in the chapters on Europe, France, Puerto Rico and Scotland. Other marriage issues arise in the chapters on Canada (forced marriages and polygamy), India (irretrievable breakdown) and Korea. Poland looks at de facto relationships, while South Africa and Fiji with Samoa consider family courts and mediation. Issues to do with reproduction and birth come up in England and Wales (forced caesarean sections), France (surrogacy), Ireland (surrogacy), Switzerland (surrogacy), and the United States (the interplay between the Obama health reforms and religious objections to contraception and abortion). Child law issues are found in Australia (sexual abuse), Japan (child abduction plus paternity), Korea (parental responsibility), Serbia (child abuse and neglect), Slovenia (deprivation of parental care), Scotland (child law reforms) and Zanzibar (child law reforms and their interface with Islamic practices). Europe
discusses gender assignment, Mauritius explores protection orders against domestic violence, New Zealand unpacks two significant appellate decisions on property issues, and South Africa looks at trusts.

Thanks are due to my devoted secretary Angela Funnell, my very fine research assistant Sean Brennan, the anonymous referees, all those who work for Jordans, especially Cheryl Prophett, and those who translated abstracts into
French – Dominique Goubau and the team at Lyon.

Bill Atkin
General Editor
Wellington, New Zealand
June 2015

General Editor
Professor Bill Atkin
, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Associate Editor (Africa)
Fareda Banda
, Reader in the Laws of Africa, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

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