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Artikel

Access_open Enhanced Contact Rights for Grandparents? A Critical View from Spanish and Catalan Laws

Journal Family & Law, September 2021
Keywords Contact with grandchildren, Best interest of the child, Parental responsibilities
Authors prof. dr. J. Ribot Igualada
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines how Spanish and Catalan laws deal with claims of grandparents who seek contact with their grandchildren against the will of one or both parents, and the scope given to their rights. It starts by explaining the content and the goals of the legal reforms enacted in Spain at the beginning of the 21st century to promote grandparents’ interests. Then, it presents the case law developed in the interpretation of the relevant legal rules. The resulting state of the law is assessed, taking into account the interests of all the parties involved (parents, grandparents, and grandchildren). The experience of more than twenty years of application of the specific provisions concerning grandparents’ contact rights sheds light on the impact of giving grandparents stronger legal rights. However, it also prompts the question of whether this legislative choice might have brought about useless and potentially harmful litigation.


prof. dr. J. Ribot Igualada
Jordi Ribot Igualada is Professor of Civil Law at the Institute of European and Comparative Law and Director of the Institute of European and Comparative Private Law (University of Girona).
Artikel

Access_open We need to talk to Martha

Or: The desirability of introducing simple adoption as an option for long-term foster children in The Netherlands

Journal Family & Law, June 2021
Keywords Adoption, foster care, guardianship, parental responsibility, supervision orders for minors
Authors mr. dr. M.J. Vonk and dr. G.C.A.M. Ruitenberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article you will be introduced to Martha. Martha will turn eighteen in a couple of weeks and is afraid of losing her foster family when she becomes an adult (I). You will be taken on a journey through the Dutch child protection system and recent research on the desirability of forging an additional legal instrument, such as the introduction of simple adoption, for children like Martha and her two families. The following questions will be answered: How do children like Martha end up in a foster family (II)? Who is responsible or who makes decisions about Martha’s care and future and what problems may occur? Five possible situations in long-term foster care will be discussed in this context on the basis of current law and research (III). Would simple adoption (eenvoudige adoptie) solve some of the problems discussed in the earlier section and thus be a feasible and desirable option for long-term foster children and their foster parents (IV)? At the end of this journey you will be invited to take a brief glance into the future in the hope that Martha’s voice will be heard (V).
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    In dit artikel stellen we u voor aan Martha. Martha wordt over een paar weken achttien en is bang haar pleeggezin kwijt te raken als ze meerderjarig wordt. Aan de hand van het verhaal van Martha nemen we u mee op een reis langs het Nederlandse jeugdbeschermingsstelstel en langs recent onderzoek naar de wenselijkheid van de introductie van een nieuwe juridische mogelijkheid waarmee een band tussen Martha en haar beide families kan worden gevestigd: eenvoudige adoptie. De volgende vragen worden daarbij beantwoord: Hoe komen kinderen zoals Martha in een pleeggezin terecht? Wie is verantwoordelijk voor of mag beslissingen nemen over Martha’s opvoeding en toekomst en wat voor problemen kunnen zich daarbij voordoen? Zou eenvoudige adoptie een oplossing bieden voor een aantal van de problemen die worden besproken en daarmee een wenselijke oplossing zijn voor langdurige pleegkinderen en hun pleeggezinnen? Aan het einde van deze reis werpen we een korte blik op de toekomst in de hoop dat de stem van Martha gehoord zal worden.


mr. dr. M.J. Vonk
Machteld Vonk is associate professor at the Amsterdam Center for Family Law of the Private Law Department at VU University Amsterdam.

dr. G.C.A.M. Ruitenberg
Geeske Ruitenberg is assistant professor at the Amsterdam Center for Family Law of the Private Law Department at the VU University Amsterdam.

    Medical and societal developments have led to a new family form involving more than two persons who make the conscious decision to have and raise a child together. Before the conception of the child, co-parenting arrangements are made covering the role of each parent in the child’s life and the division of care and financial obligations. These intentional multi-parent families pose new challenges to family law. Both in Belgium and the Netherlands, as in most other legal systems, the number of legal parents vested with custody of the child is limited to two. This two-parent model does not protect the relationship between the child and each of its parents in a multi-parent family. The question arises whether the law should be adjusted to accommodate multi-parent families, and if so, how. The Belgian Senate recently accepted that this question should be subjected to parliamentary debate. In 2014 the Netherlands tasked the Government Committee on the Reassessment of Parenthood with evaluating whether the law should allow more than two persons to be a child's legal parents and share parental responsibilities. In its recently published report, the Government Committee advises legal multi-parenthood be statutorily regulated, subject to certain conditions.The present contribution addresses two questions. The first one concerns the legal position of persons who have entered into multi-parenting arrangements. We answer this question by examining the Belgian rules on legal parentage and parental responsibilities. Second, we explore how family law might accommodate intentional multi-parent families. For this question, we focus on the recommendations the Dutch Government Committee formulated on legal multi-parenthood.
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    Medische en maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen hebben geleid tot het ontstaan van een nieuwe gezinsvorm, waarbij meer dan twee personen bewust ervoor kiezen om samen een kind te krijgen en het op te voeden. Voor de verwekking maken ze afspraken over de rol van elk van hen in het leven van het kind en over de verdeling van zorgtaken en financiële verplichtingen. Deze intentionele meeroudergezinnen vormen een nieuwe uitdaging voor het familierecht. Zoals in de meeste rechtsstelsels, is in België en Nederland het aantal juridische ouders beperkt tot twee. Dit twee-oudermodel verleent geen bescherming aan de relatie tussen het kind en elk van zijn ouders in een meeroudergezin. De vraag rijst of het familierecht deze nieuwe gezinsvorm tegemoet moet komen, en zo ja, hoe. De Belgische Senaat heeft eind 2015 aanvaard dat deze vraag het voorwerp moet uitmaken van toekomstig parlementair debat. De Nederlands regering gaf in 2014 aan de “Staatscommissie Herijking Ouderschap” de opdracht te onderzoeken of de wet het mogelijk moet maken dat meer dan twee personen de juridische ouders kunnen zijn van een kind en het ouderlijk gezag kunnen delen. In haar recent gepubliceerde rapport beveelt deze commissie aan om juridisch meerouderschap wettelijk te regelen.  Deze bijdrage onderzoekt twee vragen. De eerste vraag is wat de rechtspositie is van de personen die betrokken zijn in meerouderschapsafspraken. We beantwoorden deze vraag aan de hand van de Belgische regels over afstamming en ouderlijk gezag. De tweede vraag is hoe het recht aan intentionele meeroudergezinnen kan tegemoetkomen. De aanbevelingen van de Nederlandse Staatscommissie Herijking Ouderschap staan hierbij centraal.


Prof. dr. Ingrid Boone
Ingrid Boone is an associate professor of Family Law at KU Leuven. She is a member of the Scientific Research Network of the Research Foundation Flanders (2015-2020) RETHINKIN - Rethinking legal kinship and family studies in the Low Countries.
Article

Access_open Formerly cohabiting parents and parenting plans: Who makes the effort?

Journal Family & Law, June 2016
Authors Simon de Bruijn Msc, dr. Anne-Rigt Poortman and Prof. dr. ir Tanja van der Lippe
AbstractAuthor's information

    When the Promotion of Continued Parenting and Proper Divorce Act came into force on March 2009 both married and cohabiting Dutch parents of minor children were obliged to draw up a parenting plan when they separate. Parenting plans are not enforceable for cohabiters, however. Using data from the New Families in the Netherlands survey, we examine how many former cohabiters create a parenting plan and how this compares to the number of verbal or no arrangements. We expect that child, parents and relationship characteristics are important for the likelihood that a parenting plan is constructed. Results show that more than half of former cohabiters create a parenting plan. Furthermore, former cohabiters are more likely to draw up a parenting plan if they consult a legal practitioner during their separation process. In addition, the younger the youngest child is, the more likely that former cohabiters will create a parenting plan or make verbal arrangements rather than no arrangements. That is also true for higher educated households and if they opt for residential co-parenting after divorce. Former cohabiters in a high-conflict situation are less likely to develop a parenting plan than make no arrangements.


Simon de Bruijn Msc
Simon de Bruijn is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Sociology and Research School (ICS) of Utrecht University. His research interests include divorce and post-divorce arrangements.

dr. Anne-Rigt Poortman
Anne-Rigt Poortman is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology and Research School (ICS) of Utrecht University. She received her Ph.D. at Utrecht University in 2002. Her main research interests are divorce and separation, new relationship types and legal aspects of partner relationships.

Prof. dr. ir Tanja van der Lippe
Tanja van der Lippe is a Professor of Sociology of Households and Employment Relations at the Department of Sociology and Research School (ICS) of Utrecht University. She is the head of the Department of Sociology and research director of ICS Utrecht. Her research interests are in the area of work-family linkages in Dutch and other societies.

    Op 11 februari 2015 heeft het Comité van Ministers van de Raad van Europa de Recommendation on preventing and resolving disputes on child relocation aangenomen. Dit is het eerste Europese instrument over het verhuizen met kinderen na scheiding. De Recommendation heeft een duidelijk tweeledig doel: het voorkomen van conflicten over verhuizingen met kinderen en, indien een conflict is gerezen, het bieden van richtsnoeren voor het oplossen daarvan. In deze bijdrage staan in de eerste plaats de inhoud van de Recommendation en de daarbij gemaakte keuzes centraal. Daarnaast wordt ingegaan op de vraag wat deze Recommendation kan betekenen voor het Nederlandse recht en de toepassing daarvan in verhuiszaken. In de Recommendation worden enige, naar het oordeel van de auteur verstandige keuzes gemaakt. Zo verdient het stevig inzetten op alternatieve geschiloplossing steun. Daarnaast is de aanbevolen afzonderlijke beoordeling van het belang van het kind, zonder dat dit belang echter de doorslag hoeft te geven, in overeenstemming met vaste rechtspraak van de Hoge Raad in verhuiszaken. Ook het pleidooi voor een neutrale, kind-gecentreerde, casuïstische benadering door de rechter strookt met de wijze waarop Nederlandse rechters tot hun beslissingen in verhuiszaken komen. Specifieke verhuiswetgeving op deze punten, zoals de Recommendation voorstelt, acht de auteur dan ook niet nodig. Wel zou de wettelijke verankering van de in de Recommendation voorgestelde formele notificatieplicht kunnen bijdragen aan het voorkomen van verhuisconflicten. Krachtens deze plicht dient de ouder met een verhuiswens de andere ouder – schriftelijk en binnen een redelijke termijn – te informeren over de voorgenomen verhuizing. Hoewel de verwachtingen van het daadwerkelijke effect van de Recommendation als niet-bindend instrument niet al te hoog gespannen moeten zijn, draagt deze bij aan de erkenning van verhuizing met kinderen als een (hoog)potentieel conflictueuze aangelegenheid.
    On the 11th February 2015 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Recommendation on preventing and resolving disputes on child relocation. This is the first European instrument on child relocation. The aim of the Recommendation is twofold: preventing relocation disputes, and in case of a dispute, providing guidelines for solving them. This contribution firstly intends to examine the principles of the Recommendation and the choices that has been made during the drafting process. Secondly, it will look at the question of to what extent the Recommendation could lead to any adjustments of Dutch law and its application in relocation cases. In the opinion of the author, a number of prudent choices have been made in the Recommendation. In the first place, the encouragement of alternative dispute resolution ought to be supported. Secondly, the recommended individual and separate assessment of the best interests of the child (whose interests are, however, not decisive) is in accordance with the case law of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in relocation cases. The plea for a neutral, child centered, case-by-case approach by the court is also consistent with the way in which Dutch courts make their decisions in relocation cases. Specific relocation legislation in this regard is not necessary in the opinion of the author. However, a legislative provision requiring the relocating parent to inform the other parent prior to the intended relocation might contribute to the prevention of disputes on child relocation. Although expectations concerning the actual effect of the Recommendation as a non-binding instrument should not be too high, it nevertheless contributes to the recognition of child relocation as an issue with a high potential for conflict.


Prof. mr. Lieke Coenraad
Prof. mr. Lieke Coenraad is Professor of Private Law and Dispute Resolution at the law faculty of VU University Amsterdam. She is also deputy judge at the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam.

    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.

    Legal position of a known donor constitutes an ongoing challenge. Known donors are often willing to play a role in the child’s life. Their wishes range from scarce involvement to aspiring legal parentage. Therefore three persons may wish for parental role. This is not catered for in the current laws allowing only for two legal parents. Several studies show how lesbian mothers and a donor ’devise new definitions of parenthood’ extending ’beyond the existing normative framework’. However, the diversity in the roles of the donors suggests a split of parental rights between three persons rather than three traditional legal parents. In this article I will discuss three jurisdictions (Quebec, Sweden and the Netherlands), allowing co-mother to become legal parent other than by a step-parent adoption. I will examine whether these jurisdictions attempt to accommodate specific needs of lesbian families by splitting up parentage ’package’ between the duo-mothers and the donor.


Prof. mr. Masha Antokolskaia Ph.D.
Masha Antokolskaia is professor of Private Law (in particular, Personal Status and Family Law) at the VU University Amsterdam. She is a member of the Commission on European Family Law (CEFL) and a board member of the International Society of Family Law. She is author of a diverse range of monographs and articles written in Dutch, English and Russian. Her main research areas are: European comparative Family Law and Dutch Family Law, with particular regard to the law relating to relationships, parentage and divorce.

    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.
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