Saving families – saving values

date: 26 March 2021

location: Webinar/Budapest-Miskolc

presenters: Domagoj Dalbello, Bence Ákos Gát, Lucie Zatloukalová, Katja Drnovšek, Mirna Dzeletovic, Napsugár Ágnes Szél, Tussupova Tomiris, Csenge Halász, Dominika Mróz

moderators: Dr. Edit Sápi

themes: Saving Families – saving values

An international online doctoral conference with the title ‘Saving families – saving values’ was organised on 26 March 2021. The webinar was organised by the Central European Professors’ Network coordinated by the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law (Hungary, Budapest), the University of Miskolc, the Faculty of Law, the Institution of Private Law, the Department of Civil Law, the Private Law Scientific Working Committee of the Hungarian Scientific Academy’s Regional Committee of Miskolc, and the Central-European Comparative Law Association.

Before the commencement of the webinar, Dr. habil Tímea Barzó and Dr. Edit Sápi welcomed the participants of the webinar on the Google Meet platform. The presentations covered a wide range of topics of family law, with special regard to the examination of the regulatory and dogmatic issues of foreign countries, drawing attention to the practical problems as well as presenting valuable and forward-looking discussions.

The first presentation was delivered by Domagoj Dalbello, a PhD student at the Catholic University of Croatia, who examined the issues and connections between values ​​and fertility. In the presentation, he overviewed the aspects of defining the term ‘value’ as a philosophical concept and the historical development of ‘value’. He subsequently discussed some theories related to modernisation. He examined the relationship between values ​​and family, and found that as social norms changed, the relationship between individuals and family also changed. In the second half of the presentation, he discussed fertility rate indicators in different countries of the world, and highlighted that the fertility rates ​​of Western European states are alarmingly low. He stated that the low fertility rates in Europe can be traced back to several sociological, psychological, and technological reasons, but that they are also closely linked to the changes that can be observed in line with the changes in social values.

The second presentation was delivered by Bence Ákos Gát, a PhD student at the National University of Public Service, Hungary, who examined how the traditional Hungarian family model can prevail in the framework set by the EU. On 22 December 2020, the Ninth Amendment to the Hungarian Fundamental Law (amendment to Article L) came into effect, which also affected family law by declaring that the mother is a woman, and the father is a man. This provision aims to emphasise traditional family law values, which seems to run counter to the public policy objectives set by the EU. This is well illustrated, for example, by the fact that on 11 March 2021, the EU territory was declared an LGBTQ freedom zone. In light of these aspirations, the presenter emphasised the importance of protecting the traditional concept of family at the national level.

Lucie Zatloukalová, a student at Masaryk University, Czech Republic, presented his thought-provoking lecture with the title ‘Marriage to everyone?’ She demonstrated two approaches regarding marriage: on the one hand, the view that the institution of marriage can be used by any couple, regardless of the gender, and on the other hand, the view emphasising that the institution of marriage can only be open to heterosexual couples. She showed that there are differences between European states in this regard, but temporarily, most of the legal systems prefer marriage as a relationship between heterosexual couples. Conversely, legislation is evolving, for example, in the Netherlands and Ireland, where the law allows marriage of same-sex couples. The presenter also pointed out that some states are expected to adopt a liberal model, while other countries are voting in favour of strong legal protection for the traditional family model.

The next speaker was Katja Drnovšek, a PhD student at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, who examined the enforcement of parental responsibilities in light of Slovenian state regulations. She provided a detailed overview of the development of Slovenian family law legislation and the recent ‘family law reform’. Among these, she examined the parental responsibility and obligations, which were significantly transformed during the reform. Consequently, she also emphasised the comparative analysis of the old and amended rules in her presentation. Along with providing a highly detailed analysis of the Slovenian legislation, she also emphasised prioritising the best interests of children, and highlighted some examples of case law.

Subsequently, a presentation was delivered by Mirna Dzeletovic, a PhD student at the University of Novi SadSerbia, on issues related to child abduction and parental will as a legal basis. The convention held on 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an extremely important document in this area, and currently has 101 contracting states. The convention also provides regulations for illegal exports and imports in line with each state and regulates the rights and obligations of the contracting states. The presenter analysed the issue of child abduction by presenting diverse statistics and drew attention to the fact that, according to the statistics, the parental will (acceptance) as a legal basis for the removal is becoming more frequent, its regulation needs to be reconsidered.

The next lecture was delivered by Napsugár Ágnes Széla student at the Károli Gáspár Calvinist University, Hungary, who examined the situation of child-friendly justice in light of the new Hungarian civil procedure law. She noted that children involved in civil law litigation are only passive participants in the proceedings and not real subjects of the procedure. The cross-border significance of this topic/issue was also illustrated by the fact that the Council of Europe defined 2012 as the Year of Child-Centered Justice. She emphasised that child-friendly justice can be considered a unique domestic feature, and the new Hungarian civil procedure law has put greater emphasis on protecting the rights of children involved in the proceedings as compared to that in the past. She also emphasised that it is extremely important that the child involved in civil law litigation should be informed of the proceedings in an understandable way and form, in line with his or her intellectual level.

Subsequently, Tussupova Tomiris, an international PhD student at the National University of Public Service, Hungary, delivered a presentation on the topic of international adoption. According to the presenter, the topic is highly relevant to current times as the institution of international adoption has recently emerged as an effective, nation-state opportunity to protect orphans. In this regard, she drew attention to the statistics currently published in Russia and the fact that international adoption is being criticised because it allows the uprooting of children from their usual cultural and linguistic environment. According to her perspective, while trends in international adoption will show an increasing curve, international adoption will also promote children’s right to live in a full family as well as ‘social kinship’ between different nation-states.

The subsequent presentation was delivered by Csenge Halásza PhD student at the University of Miskolc, Hungary, who presented the connections between social media and family protection. She pointed out that social media has a strong impact on privacy, which includes the right to respect an individual’s private and family life. After the systematic and conceptual basis, she also outlined the positive and negative effects of social media on family life. At the end of the presentation, she highlighted special topics such as influencers and the circumstances regarding the privacy of children’s photos, which strongly affect the ‘online-placed’ family relationships and called for an effective legislative response.

The presentations of the conference were concluded by Dominika Mróz, a student at the Institute of Law Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, who delivered a presentation on the legal protection of families with members with mental disabilities. The domestic basic legislation on the subject is the Polish Family Law Code and the Law on Custody, which came into effect in 1984. Both Polish and EU legislation provide a legal framework that allows people with mental disabilities to live in a full family and that protects families with such members. In the presentation, the speaker outlined the structure of her doctoral dissertation, which also covered the study of sociology and legal issues related to children, adults, and elderly persons with mental disabilities.

In summary, it can be stated that in the ‘Saving families – saving values’ webinar conference covered an extremely wide range of the topic of family as a value, including cross-cultural perspectives, and reflected on the challenges of the 21st century, which have become a part of our everyday lives. The lectures, while covering diverse topics, realised a valuable scientific discourse on the topic of families in the 21st century.

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