The Harmonisation of Family Law in the United States
EUROPEAN CHALLENGES IN CONTEMPORARY FAMILY LAW, Katharina Boele-Woelki, Tone Sverdrup, eds., Intersentia, Antwerp, 2008
24 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2007
In the US, state laws governing family relations can differ dramatically, even between geographic neighbors. Thus, states can have deep rifts and differences over some very fundamental questions: Who is a parent? Should individuals be able to walk away from the promises made at marriage, and if so under what circumstances? Who should be able to marry at all? During our 200 years of experience with a federalist system, a number of mechanisms have evolved to bring some measure of harmony, although not uniformity, to the treatment of family law by the various states. These include top-down approaches, in which the U.S. Supreme Court resolves differences when constitutional principles are implicated - as well as bottom-up approaches, in which state law reform commissions and national law reform bodies attempt to close gaps between the laws of the states. This Chapter reviews methods in the US for harmonizing state law as one source of guidance for how such differences may be navigated in the European Union.
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