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Topics in International Law: International & Comparative Family Law

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Although family law and laws regarding children have traditionally been domestic matters subject to national and customary law, family and child law matters may now be the subject of international law treaties. Research in international family law can involve finding statutes and cases of individual countries, works on customary law, and human rights and private international law treaties.

Monographs & Treatises

International and comparative domestic relations and family law print materials can be found in the K670-709 LC Classification range found on the 4th floor of the MacMillan Law Library. Some of the more recent titles on international family law in the law library’s collection include:

  • Trevor Buck, International Child Law (K639 .B83 2011).
  • Ann Estin, International Family Law Deskbook (K670 .E845 2012).
  • Elaine Sutherland, The Future of Child and Family Law (K670 .F88 2012).
  • W.R. Atkin, The International Survey of Family Law (K670 .I 58 2011).
  • Ruth Cabeza, International Adoption (K704 .C33 2012).
  • Rhona Schuz, The Hague Child Abduction Convention (K707 .S38 2013).
  • Bonita Meyersfeld, Domestic Violence and International Law (K5190 .M49 2010).
  • David Hodson, A Practical Guide to International Family Law (KD685 .M3 H63 2008).
  • International Family Law Practice. Available online through Westlaw, this title provides a practitioner-oriented treatise on issues in international family law practice.

Journals & Papers

Westlaw: In Law Reviews & Journals, or use Current Index to Legal Periodicals.  

Lexis: Find Law Reviews and Journals under Secondary Materials.

Hein Online: Narrow your Advance Search of the Law Journal Library to subject areas International Law, Comparative Law, or Family Law. You can also use the Hein Online libraries for International & Non-U.S. Law Journals or the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.

individual journals on international family law include:

For non-law journals, try:

  • JSTOR (scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences, including older issues)
  • PAIS (search for articles, books, reports, and government publications on international relations, human rights, and government)
  • CIAO (working papers, policy briefs, reports, journals from NGOs, research institutes, and foundations on international affairs)

News and Current Awareness

International Family Law Blog

International Family Law News & Analysis Blog

A Child is Missing: The International Child Abduction Blog

Global Legal Monitor (Law Library of Congress): Topics for international news stories include Marriage and Family Status, and Adoption.  Articles include some links to primary sources and to other news sources.

Bloomberg BNA's Family Law Reporter: U.S. cases and articles related to the Hague Convention and other international and jurisdictional topics under the headings child abduction, custody, jurisdiction, and child travel abroad.

Research Guides & Other Resources

Research Guides

Treaties on Private International Law

  • Hague Conference on Private International Law: Includes text, status information, and contracting state lists of Hague Conventions on Private International Law related to international protection of children, family, and property relations.  There are bibliographies of publications for each convention, and for some conventions, there are country profiles, case law, and explanatory documents.
  • U.S. State Department Family Law treaties: Hague Conventions listed and linked by those to which the U.S. is a party, those for which U.S. signature or ratification is under consideration, and other private international law conventions.
  • Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs: Information for U.S. citizens traveling abroad on family law and child support enforcement matters.

Treaties on International Human Rights and Family Law

  • United Nations Human Rights Treaties.  Human rights treaties indexed by state, category, theme, and subject matter.  The theme list includes topics like marriage and children’s rights.  Find text of the treaties and concluding observations, articles, general comments and recommendations, and jurisprudence.
  • University of Minnesota Human Rights Library: Human Rights Topic Guides.  Topics include Children and Youth and Right to a Family.  Guides list and link relevant treaties and documents.
  • OHCHR Universal Human Rights Instruments:  Text and status information on human rights conventions includes those on rights of women and rights of the child.

Other Resources

  • Foreign Law Guide (subscription database) has articles for most countries, with a description of the legal system, primary sources, topical sources, and translations where available. See the Subject Headings for citations for publications and individual statutes by topic, including Family, Abortion and Family Planning, Domestic Relations, Adoption, and Marriage.
  • U.S. State Department Intercountry Adoption: Information by country on adoption process and laws, including Hague Adoption Convention status, contact information, statistics, and alerts and notices.
  • U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: The Build a Report feature allows you to select sections of the report by country and issues, including arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence; and discrimination against women, children, and based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • NATLEX (International Labour Organization): Labor laws by jurisdiction, including laws on discrimination and leave, with PDFs of documents and some English translations.
  • European e-justice portal: Provides legal summaries with citations for the European Union and individual European Union member states on justice systems and areas of the law including Family Matters, with information on divorce and child custody matters.
  • Legislation Online (OSCE): Includes excerpts of UN treaties, EU legislation, and European national codes and statutes on human rights issues.  See the Gender topic section for family law issues.
  • Commission on European Family Law: Country reports and legislation by topic and jurisdiction on European family law. Reports are detailed but are dated 2002.


Subject Guide