International Family Law


International Family Law - Research Guide International Law

Updated: October 16, 2018 (Online publications).

International Family Law describes all family law matters with an international element. People are increasingly mobile, living outside their country of origin and experiencing international relationships more frequently. In such cross border situations the rules of international family law determine jurisdiction and the aplicable family law. The closest link to determine which national family law rules are applicable to specific family matters is the habitual residence or domicile of the parties concerned. Family matters include marriage, divorce, maintenance obligations, spouses, inter-country adoption, lineage, inheritance etc.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on International Family Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Private international law: family law and subject heading (keyword) Family Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue.
Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


Reference works





Periodicals, serial publications


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  • Davies, M. (ed.), Babies for Sale,Transnational Surrogacy, Human Rights and the Politics of Reproduction, Zed Books, London, 2017.

    Transnational surrogacy – the creation of babies across borders – has become big business. Globalization, reproductive technologies, new family formations and rising infertility are combining to produce a 'quiet revolution' in social and medical ethics and the nature of parenthood. Whereas much of the current scholarship has focused on the US and India, this book offers a far wider perspective.

    Featuring contributions from over thirty activists and scholars from a range of countries and disciplines, this collection offers an international study of transnational surrogacy. Its innovative bottom-up approach, rooted in feminist perspectives, gives due prominence to the voices of those most affected by the global surrogacy chain, namely the surrogate mothers, donors, prospective parents and the children themselves. Through case studies ranging from Israel to Mexico, the book outlines the forces that are driving the growth of transnational surrogacy, as well as its implications for feminism, human rights, motherhood and masculinity.

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  • Vienenkötter, R., Der Begriff des gewöhnlichen Aufenthalts im Internationalen Familien- und Erbrecht der EU, Jenaer Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, 2017.

    Der gewöhnliche Aufenthalt ist heute das bevorzugte Anknüpfungskriterium im Internationalen Familien- und Erbrecht der EU. Ursprünglich war mit der Verwendung des gewöhnlichen Aufenthaltsbegriffs die Vorstellung verbunden, dass dieser sich als rein tatsächlicher Umstand leicht feststellen lasse und der Begriff keine Definition erfordere. Die vielfache Verwendung des Anknüpfungskriteriums in unterschiedlichen Regelungsbereichen hat jedoch in der Praxis zu Problemen geführt. Noch nicht geklärt ist, wie das Anknüpfungskriterium auszulegen ist und ob der Begriff in allen Rechtsakten gleich zu verstehen ist oder vielmehr ein differenzierendes Begriffsverständnis zugrunde zu legen ist. Mit dieser Fragestellung beschäftigt sich die Arbeit. Hierzu wird der Begriff in den Verordnungen des europäischen Internationalen Familien- und Erbrechts analysiert. Schließlich werden die allgemeinen Begriffsgrundsätze und Differenzierungskriterien herausgearbeitet sowie der Versuch einer Systematisierung dieser Kriterien unternommen.

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  • Yassari, N., L.M. Möller, I. Gallala-Arndt (eds.), Parental Care and the Best Interests of the Child in Muslim Countries, The Hague, Asser Press, 2017.

    This volume compiles selected contributions to the workshop ‘Parental Care and the Best Interests of the Child in Muslim Countries’, which was convened at the Centre Jacques Berque pour les Études en Sciences Humaines et Sociales au Maroc in Rabat, Morocco, 1–5 April 2015. In recent years, legislatures of many Muslim countries have revised the conventional Islamic rules on child custody. Whereas in the past, rules were oriented on fixed age brackets and the gender of the parent and child, they have increasingly been formulated in favour of the principle of the best interests of the child and/or in favour of the mother through an extension of the custodial time period afforded to her as a matter of law. This book contains a historical perspective on the evolution of domestic rules on parental care and on the introduction and development of the notion of the best interests of the child in ten countries. Further, the chapters consider social and cultural factors and discuss the particular characteristics of each country before analysing the policies and agendas of national legislatures and other stakeholders which have led them to amend law in a specific direction. The countries are: Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, South Africa, Tunisia,


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  • European Union: Family Law
  • EUPILLAR Database: The Database contains summaries in English of over 2300 judgments that were rendered between 1 March 2002 and 31 December 2015 concerning the Brussels I (Brussels I Recast), Brussels IIa, Maintenance, Rome I and Rome II Regulations and the Hague Maintenance Protocol in the Court of Justice of the European Union and in Belgium, Germany, England and Wales, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Spain.


  • The Hague Abduction Convention: Nice in Theory, Difficult in Implementation

    The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return. To implement these objectives, the Convention creates a system of close co-operation among the judicial and administrative authorities of the Contracting States and requests Contracting States to use the most expeditious procedures available under their own laws for Convention proceedings. A recent decision of the Japanese Supreme Court shows the conflict between the desire to protect factual situations altered by the wrongful removal or retention of a child, and that of guaranteeing respect for the legal relationships which may underlie such situations.

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  • Key Connecting Factors in International Child Abduction Cases

    One of the main problems in international child abduction cases is to determine which country’s courts should decide a case and which legal system should apply. The subject of this blog is to give some insights in the main connecting factors in international child abduction cases, with an emphasis on the “habitual residence” of very young children as connecting factor. The main question is whether the parental intentions or the physical presence of a child in a state is primordial to establish habitual residence.

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  • The Harmonization of European Family Law: Work in Progress

    With the aim of offering citizens in the European Union legal certainty in cross border family law situations the EU has increasingly come to define key aspects of jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of judgments on divorce, maintenance, and disputes over children, including international child abduction, and provided new frameworks for cross-national cooperation. This blog gives an overview of the main EU regulations in the field of international family law.

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  • Towards a Toolbox for Nationality Legislation

    From 13 to 14 October Prof. Dr. Gerard–René de Groot will host his farewell seminar on the ”Future of nationality law” at Maastricht University. In this seminar specialists in the field of nationality law will discuss how academia and civil society can best collaborate in the fight to eradicate statelessness. With whole populations adrift, nationality and citizenship today are critically important to gain admittance in a state. Nationality is in fact commonly regarded as an inalienable right of every human being. Thus, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that “everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.”

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  • The Special Commission on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law

    From 10 to 17 November a Special Commission of the Conference on Private International Law (hereafter HCCH) on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law will meet at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Special Commission of the HCCH will discuss the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law. The new Convention aims to resolve the problems of unpaid or uncollectible child support and the problems of costly, complicated, slow and under-utilized international procedures. It will provide for a simplified procedure to recover child support internationally.

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  • Cultural Diversity

    On Monday the 17th of August 2009 the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations of the Hague Academy of International Law started. The Centre takes place annually at the Academy and Library building of the Peace Palace. The purpose of the Centre is to bring together advanced young scholars of […]

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  • Lesbians v. Lesbians

    Who is a true Lesbian?
    Inhabitants of the Greek Isle of Lesbos started a trial in Athens to ban the Greek Gay and Lesbian Union (OLKE) from using the word “Lesbian”. According to the Lesbos residents the term “lesbian” causes psychological distress to the islanders, as it is a world lesbian centre in a rather conservative environment. Same-sex marriage is still a difficult issue. The decision can have worldwide effects, if the name may be used only for the people of Lesbos, with a copyright not to use it publicly in print. What about the other “Lesbians”?
    Perhaps Sappho, the poetess, who lived around 630 BC on the island, and whose poems caused all these problems, was not a lesbian after all?

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See also

More Research guides on Private International Law

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