12th UCERF symposium on the 22nd of March 2018

The annual UCERF symposium on current developments in family law took place on Thursday afternoon, 22 March 2018.
The approximately 150 participants in the twelfth symposium were first welcomed by Prof. Dr. Wendy Schrama. During her welcome speech she discussed the WODC research into the legal position of missing persons in comparative legal perspective that was carried out by UCERF researchers.

The symposium then started with three speakers, chaired by dr. Marjolein van den Brink. Prof. dr. Dr. Freek Schols started of with an interesting presentation about the new matrimonial property law. He focused on the various capabilities that can arise if partners marry or start living together. His metaphor about ‘the ghost of the fourth equity’ was aptly formulated. Then dr. Evelien van Wijk-Verhagen spoke about her dissertation. She presented a number of findings from her dissertation on reasonableness and fairness in personal and family law, in particular marriage and divorce law. She discussed, among other things, her innovative research methods, and her most important conclusions. This research can provide more insight into the different reasons for lawyers and judges to appeal to reasonableness and fairness. She ended with a plea for lawyers and judges to indicate more clearly what function an appeal to reasonableness and fairness has in specific cases. Finally, Friso Kleefmann spoke, from his capacity as team chairman at the District Court of North Holland, about the latest developments within KEI. He discussed the role of the family court: should the judge be passive or directive? This has always been a relevant question, but is even more urgent when KEI has been rolled out nationwide.

After a short break, the afternoon was chaired by dr. Jet Tigchelaar. Prof. dr. Dr Charlotte Declerck, lawyer and associate professor at Hasselt University, was the first to talk about residence arrangements for children after divorce under Belgian law. The central issue was the situation in which a contact arrangement was established in consultation between the parents, but after a period of time a judicial review was requested. The reason to do so can be the increased age of the child, a new job or partner for any of the parents, or simply that the old contact arrangement is not sufficient anymore. The lessons from Belgian law are also relevant to the Netherlands. Thereafter Dr. Irma Hein, children- and adolescent psychiatrist and postdoc researcher, discussed her research into the determination of competence in children. Her research focuses on the ability of children to decide on medical treatments. The outcomes may also be of importance for family law. With interesting videos and research results she showed how competence is determined in children. 
Mr. Sandra Verburgt closed the afternoon with a presentation about the consequences of the Brexit for European families and the ‘fog’ that still hangs above the North Sea. The unclear situation is undesirable and has already led to a number of lawsuits, which also have implications for family law.

While enjoying a snack and a drink, after the various and fascinating presentations there was an opportunity to enjoy a very interesting and well-attended symposium.
The bundle with contributions from the speakers can be ordered here.