Nowadays the newly composed or blended family is a widespread phenomenon. Nonetheless, it still defies lawyers, and particularly with regard to the legal relationship between children from a former relationship on the one hand side, and the new partner of their parent and his/her siblings on the other. The transition from (parts of) an estate from one family to the next and the patrimonial rights of members of former families vis-à-vis those of new ones, are crucial issues.
The colloquium will confront historical examples and rules with those that are being applied today. The droits de dévolution and gains de survie of the Old Regime, up until the end of the eighteenth century, which combined protection of children with that of the widow(er), provide many similarities with the contemporary usufruct of the surviving spouse, which is applied in continental-European countries. Legal historians will detail the context in which the mentioned older norms existed and their consequences, for different places in continental Western Europe. Lawyers specializing in positive matrimonial property law, inheritance law and family law will shed light on the contents and lacunae in contemporary law and legal practice in Belgium and the Netherlands. The colloquium seeks to promote further research into these matters. It equally aims at reviving the tradition of legal-historical research into old family law (in the broad sense), which in the 1960s was vibrant at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, under the impetus of the late professor John Gilissen.
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