This was the first congress hosted in Italy’s capital since the first in 1927. The event featured discussions around numerous areas of law; the family law topics included procedural problems in international family cases, parental alienation, and artificial intelligence and neuroscience and its role in family law. Lisette discusses the conference highlights here.
Family law worldwide
A sunny Rome played host to the first day of the Congress, taking place at the beautiful Parco dei Principi Hotel. The Family Law commission programme promised to provide discussion on a wide range of issues from AI and neuroscience in family law to parental alienation, surrogacy, maintenance, enforcement and a whole session devoted to arbitration. Speakers from eleven jurisdictions joined the session including Chile, Mexico, Canada, Morocco and various European countries.
In preparing for my own session with representatives from Germany and Chile, we quickly struck upon the distinction between our jurisdictions in how we care for the older generation. Maintenance orders against adult children to support their elderly parents are possible in both those European and South American countries but are not possible in England and Wales.
It brought home to me just how important the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance is to all families, not just those separating. Previously a signatory by virtue of EU membership, in 2020 the UK became a signatory to the Hague Convention in its own right. At that stage the UK made the following unilateral declaration:
“The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wishes to underline the great importance it attaches to the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland recognises that extending the application of the Convention to all maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity is likely to increase considerably its effectiveness, allowing all maintenance creditors to benefit from the system of administrative cooperation established by the Convention.
It is in this spirit that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland intends to extend the application of Chapters II and III of the Convention to spousal support when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland becomes a Contracting State to the Convention.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland undertakes, within seven years, in the light of experience acquired and possible declarations of extension made by other Contracting States, to examine the possibility of extending the application of the Convention as a whole to all maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity.”
I find this acknowledgement shows a reassuring awareness of the ever-increasing internationalisation of our world and the importance of respecting decisions from other legal systems, even if they are very different from our own.
It became apparent during the discussion that England and Wales is currently leading the way when it comes to family law arbitration. Progress is being made to a lesser extent in France and Spain, whereas I understand that in Portugal it is simply not possibly to arbitrate a family law dispute.
Looking to the future
With mediation in child abductions gaining traction and becoming a popular option across Europe over the last decade, I look forward to seeing how family law alternative dispute resolution progresses over the next ten years. Unquestionably, sharing ideas and experiences at international conferences such as UIA is crucial to that progress.
Topics at the Congress often include industry specific issues, and this year the NextGen Commission discussed how collectivism and individualism impacts both our decisions as lawyers (and human beings) and the decisions made by our clients.
Awareness of this phenomenon is crucial if we are wanting to provide tailored advice and support to our clients. Whilst this clearly applies to the family law realm, it no doubt also applies in other fields.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.
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