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    Those who talk can be heard. Those who are allowed to talk may be listened to. This study is an attempt to give legal voice to those who cannot talk or are usually not listened to: children. This study is about the attention given to their interests, the best interests of the child. When these interests are immersed in a minority context, children may be overlooked for different reasons, including discriminatory attitudes or prejudice regarding their families. Law and its interpretation must be changed in order to include the difference. This study discusses the best interests of the child principle with special attention to its legal relevance in cases where lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) are, or want to be, parents. The authoritative source for the interpretation of the principle is the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The analysis focuses on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and its case law. The study aims to explore the Court’s approach to the best interest of the child and identify whether the principle is being consistently applied in cases involving LGBT families, given the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are still sensitive issues in Europe. This is done by comparing these cases to cases lodged by applicants who were not identified as an LGBT person. The margin of appreciation doctrine and the lack of European consensus on sexual minorities’ rights are confronted with the urgent paramount consideration that has to be given to children’s best interests. The analysis explores whether there is room for detecting a possible Court’s biased approach towards the concept of the best interests of the child. This study challenges the Court’s decisions in the sense that the focus should not only be at the LGBT parents’ rights to private and family life, but also at the interests of their daughters and sons. This is an attempt to call upon the ECtHR and all states not only to actively fight discrimination against LGBT persons, but, ultimately, to stop interpreting the concept of the best interests of the child in an arguably biased way, and to consider the principle’s legal value in any decision, regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity or any other distinction.


Mr. Gabriel Alves de Faria
Gabriel Alves de Faria is a Brazilian lawyer, LGBTI activist and human rights specialist who holds a Law degree from the Federal University of Espirito Santo and a European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (E. MA/EIUC - Utrecht University). Among other legal and social experiences in the human rights field, Gabriel has worked as a researcher in comparative sexual orientation Law at Leiden University and most recently as a Fellow and consultant lawyer at the LGBTI Rapporteurship of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC. His latest project is a documentary on the situation of LGBTI persons in Southeast Asia.

    This article seeks to critically analyse the European Commission's Proposal for a Council Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes (COM (2011) 126). It focuses upon the coordination of the Proposal's provisions on jurisdiction and applicable law with the parallel provisions contained in other related EU private international law instruments, namely those relating to divorce (Brussels II bis and Rome III) and succession (Succession Regulation). In doing so, the article adopts a 'stress-test' approach, presenting scenarios in which interaction between these related instruments takes place. The compositions and circumstances of the fictitious couples in these scenarios are varied in order to fully illustrate the potential consequences of the interplay between the instruments. This article seeks to assess the extent to which (in)consistency exists between the current and proposed EU private international instruments and, by evaluating this interaction through a number of norms, how identified inconsistencies impact upon international couples' legal relationships. In order to ensure the analysis remains as up to date as possible, the article will also take into account relevant changes introduced in the latest revised versions of the Proposal.


Jacqueline Gray LL.M.
Jacqueline Gray studied law at the University of Glasgow (2006-2010) and European law at the Leiden University (2010-2011). Following this, she undertook a four-month internship at the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law and five-month traineeship at the European Parliament in Brussels. She is now a PhD student at the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law, where she is writing her dissertation on party autonomy in the EU private international law relating to family matters and succession.

Pablo Quinzá Redondo LL.M.
Pablo Quinzá Redondo, a research scholar funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Valencia. His specialisation concerns 'The europeanisation of matrimonial property regimes from a substantive and private international law perspective'. Prior to commencing his PhD, he completed undergraduate degrees in both Law and Administration and Business management (2004- 2010), as well as a Master’s degree in Company Law (2010-2012), at the University of Valencia.

    In this paper, I will firstly illustrate the broader context of the contractualisation of family law by drawing upon the oscillations in family regulation between private and public regulators, in the light of the so-called family law exceptionalism. I consider the contractualisation of family law to be the ordering of the family by families and individuals through the use of legally binding private instruments. I will elaborate upon the substantive and jurisdictional contractualisation of family law in Sections 2 and 3 of this paper respectively. The deliberately 'impressionist' presentation of Section 1-3 leads onto the conclusion which proposes that States benevolently tolerate substantive contractualisation through a lower standard of judicial review, and that, whilst they actively stimulate jurisdictional contractualisation of the content of family relations, the formation and dissolution of family relations still appear to fall within the State's exclusive domain (Section 4).
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    In deze bijdrage situeer ik eerst de 21ste eeuwse contractualisering van het familierecht in de historische pendelbeweging tussen publieke en private regulering van familieleven. Die leidde in de 19de en 20ste eeuw tot de aanneming van een bijzondere, niet-contractuele, aard van het familierecht (sectie 1). Ik beschouw als contractualisering van het familierecht: de regulering van familieleven door de familie en door individuen, door middel van juridisch bindende privaatrechtelijke instrumenten. Ik zal ingaan op de inhoudelijke en jurisdictionele contractualisering van het familierecht in respectievelijk de secties 2 en 3 van deze bijdrage. De bewust 'impressionistische' uiteenzetting in secties 1-3 leidt naar de conclusie dat Staten enerzijds een welwillende houding aannemen ten opzichte van inhoudelijke contractualisering, doordat een lagere norm van rechterlijke toetsing wordt gehanteerd. Anderzijds stimuleren zij actief de jurisdictionele contractualisering van de inhoud van familierelaties. Het aangaan en de beëindiging van familierelaties blijven daarentegen het exclusieve domein van de Staat (sectie 4).


Prof. dr. Frederik Swennen
Frederik Swennen is a senior lecturer at the University of Antwerp and an attorney at the Brussels Bar.
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