A Tale of Two Federal Systems
30 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2012 Last revised: 14 Oct 2013
Date Written: June 14, 2012
In the United States, the harmonization of family law is not possible under the federal system, and family laws differ based on each state’s sensibilities. However, in another system resembling federalism — the European Union — efforts to harmonize family laws among member states are aggressively being pursued, with the next milestone being the European Union Commission’s pending proposal for the harmonization of matrimonial property regimes. In fact, harmonization is the most dynamic aspect of European family law today, and this significant experiment in the harmonization of family law offers lessons into the roles of jurisdictional autonomy, cultural relativism, and legal absolutes in society, all of increasing significance in an increasingly mobile and international society. The result impacts innumerable marriages, their meaning, and their consequences.
Keywords: family law, domestic relations, comparative law, international law, European Union, Europe, harmonization, matrimonial property, marital property, divorce, equitable distribution, community property, community of property, federalism, state jurisdiction, federal courts
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