Comparative Family Law


Content, progress and pedagogy of the module

The course focuses on family law issues in a comparative and international context and prior knowledge of family law or comparative law is not required. Topics include: property and maintenance on divorce; the grounds for divorce; the legal status of cohabitants/de facto relationship; legal regulation of adult relationships and changing family constructs; marital agreements (i.e. pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreement), the status and relevance of gender in family law (including the legal status of transgender, non-binary and intersex persons); the legal relationship of parents and children (including multiparenting, surrogacy, adoption and parenthood and parental responsibility).

All topics are covered from a comparative perspective.

This course will be taught as an interactive course, and active student participation is expected. For all sessions mandatory and voluntary additional reading will be set. Participants are expected to have done the mandatory reading for each session in advance to be able to participate and discuss the material.

This course will be of interest to anyone wanting to acquire an up-to-date understanding of current policy and issues in family law around the world and anyone with an interest in family law, comparative law and social policy. It is also of interest to those who have no intention of pursuing a career in family law, as advising commercial and corporate clients properly requires the knowledge and ability to spot family law issues/risks and then seek specialist advice.

Learning objectives


  • Basic concepts and challenges of comparative law and comparative family law
  • Concepts of ‘family’
  • Family law and human rights
  • Current challenges to family laws through societal developments and medical advances
  • Concepts and history of laws regarding:
    • Marriage
    • Divorce
    • Gender
    • Relationship recognition more broadly (including same-sex relationships and cohabitation/de facto relationships),
    • Matrimonial/family property,
    • Marital/nuptial/relationships agreements and autonomy,
    • Parents and children (including establishment of legal parenthood and particularly surrogacy), and
    • Parental responsibility


  • Gain familiarity with the essential legal concepts and constructs in the field of family law in different jurisdictions
  • Awareness of the changing nature of family relations and the need to adapt (or at least react) to societal developments and medical advances
  • Research and read a range of international academic materials and court decisions
  • Recognise the influence of human rights in the development of national family laws
  • Be able to assess critically the approaches taken in the various jurisdictions based on the respective legal, cultural and social environment


  • Identify the underlying policy issues and engage with them critically
  • Recognise legal and cultural differences between jurisdictions
  • Assess law reforms and law reform proposals in the light of the identified policy objectives
  • Engage with international legal debates on family law issues
  • Be able placed to identify relevant legal problems not only in national and international family law cases, but also when advising commercial and corporate clients (who may also face family law problems which might affect their investments or corporate structures)

Type of instruction

  • Lectures and class discussion; individual student presentations, group work

Students are exprected to physically show up to class in order to participate in group and project work.


Extent and expected workload

270 hours



Name of examComparative Family Law
Type of exam
Oral exam
20 minutes exam
Permitted aids
Without aids
Assessment7-point grading scale
Type of gradingInternal examination
Criteria of assessmentThe criteria of assessment are stated in the Examination Policies and Procedures

Facts about the module

Danish titleKomparativ familieret
Module codeJUR-SM-59-23
Module typeCourse
Duration1 semester
Language of instructionEnglish
Location of the lectureCampus Aalborg
Responsible for the module


Study BoardStudy Board of Law
DepartmentDepartment of Law
FacultyFaculty of Social Sciences and Humanities


Relevant materials that are mandatory reading will be taken from a wide range of books and journal articles.

NB: Literature is not final until 3 weeks before the start of course.
The exact description of literature will be shown in the lesson plan