Document Type


Publication Title

Family Law Quarterly

Publication Date

Fall 2004


The practice of family law has become globalized. Lawyers inevitably encounter clients whose family law problems extend beyond national boundaries. Increasingly, the laws of more than one country must be taken into account. More and more, lawyers confront international adoption, child abduction, divorce, custody and domestic violence. Globalization is transforming family law. As the United Nations notes, families are the primary unit of social organization, and families are changing, trying to adapt to new demands and new mobility. Workers follow jobs, leave their families behind and sometimes start new families in their new countries. Women seek asylum as refugees, fleeing domestic violence. Child abductions have increased as parents of different nationalities divorce, and both want their children to be raised in their own national traditions. such as the recognition of marriage, child custody jurisdiction, enforcement of foreign support awards, and international adoptions. Children are torn, not only between parents, but between cultures. Courts attempt to adapt homegrown rules to exotic contexts. Clients call with support orders from foreign courts, ‘agreements' that might or might not be recognized domestically as such, grounds for divorce no longer actionable in most states, and custody awards that are problematic under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Family lawyers increasingly find themselves dealing with the upheavals of globalization on the ground.

This Symposium should help. It began as a panel at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in January 2004, co-sponsored by the Sections on Family and Juvenile Law and International Law, and drew on experts from each. Those who pick up this Symposium for guidance on a particular narrow question may at first be disappointed that their question is not directly addressed. Even if the authors do not answer a particular question, however, they may well cite a text, or a Web site, or suggest an analytical framework that will bring a workable resolution closer. Equally important, they demonstrate the crucial role of the family law practitioner in shaping international family law.



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