Abstract: Recognition of marriages lawfully concluded abroad has until recently been a well-established rule in most Western jurisdictions. The purpose of recognition of marriage is to respect the continuity of a civil law status validly acquired under the laws of one country and to protect the parties from the disadvantages of a legally limping marriage, ie, that of a relationship which qualifi es as a marriage in one jurisdiction but not in another. The rule of recognition is currently under reconstruction in many European States, often as a reaction to migration and refuge-based “value confl icts” and societal tensions in their own territories. For example, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Germany have introduced rules on non-recognition of marriages, not permitted under the country’s own substantive (domestic) law. Marriages by a child, by proxy or by a man with more than one wife are prime examples. At the same time, the new rules forbidding recognition can leave scope for exceptions, which allow recognition through various legislative techniques. Primarily focussing on Sweden, this contribution argues that the reforms produce unpredictable outcomes and fall short of protecting vulnerable parties and that the alleged societal benefi ts are questionable. The role of international law and comparative law in the ongoing “reconstruction process” is a special concern.
Keywords: recognition of foreign marriages; private international law; polygamy; underage marriages; proxy marriages; human rights; Nordic States; Sweden; Germany
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