05 November 2012

NOTICE: Conference on "Inheritance, patrimonial rights and blended families" (Brussels, 23 November 2012)

What: Conference: Inheritance, patrimonial rights and blended families: confronting past and present /
L’héritage et les droits patrimoniaux dans la famille recomposée, entre histoire et futur /
Zakelijke rechten en erven in het nieuw samengesteld gezin, in heden en verleden
Where: Rubenszaal, Paleis der Academiën (Academy Palace), Hertogsstraat 1, B-1000 Brussel(s)
When: 23 November 2012

Please register through Admission is free.
Nowadays the newly composed or blended family is a widespread phenomenon. Nonetheless, it still defies jurists, 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.
Since 1981, in Belgium, the inheritance estate, including the personal properties and the part of the matrimonial community pertaining to the deceased, is not distributed and remains under usufruct for the benefit of the surviving spouse if there are children. Even in a case of a subsequent remarriage, these descendants remain entitled so-called ‘nude’ proprietors of the inheritance estate and they can query for a transformation of usufruct into ‘full’ ownership for parts of the inheritance. However, these rules do not apply in case of divorce or when another relationship than marriage or formal partnership between partners, having children, is ended and their communal properties are divided. Contractual arrangements often provide solutions. Nonetheless questions remain, for example as to whether it is feasible to grant the surviving spouse extensive rights of usufruct as a principle by law, and whether more legal rights should be given to descendants in this respect.
There are historical parallels. Before the age of codifications of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in the Low Countries and elsewhere, rules protected children out of a first marriage that had ended because of the death of one of the spouses. In case of remarriage of their parent, it was assured that their part in the estate – which the surviving parent could keep in many cases – remained intact. In Eastern Brabant, the droit de dévolution applied, which was strict in the sense that it froze the situation at the death of a parent. In Flanders, rights of the widow or widower in this respect were usually more limited.  In both areas, in the middle ages and early modern period, the fate of immovable property was very important: it often came from the kin, and under some circumstances it was due to return to the family from which it had come.
The colloquium will confront historical examples and rules with those that are being applied today. Legal historians will detail the context in which the mentioned 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.
9.00 Onthaal/Registration/Accueil

9.15-9.30 Prof. Dave De ruysscher (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, FWO-Vlaanderen) – Verwelkoming en inleiding/Welcome and General Introduction/Introduction générale

9.30-10.15 Prof. Dirk Heirbaut (Universiteit Gent) – “Family Above All? The 'Family' as a Central Concept in Flemish feudal law

10.15-10.30 Pauze/Pause

10.30-11.15 Prof. Virginie Lemonnier-Lesage (Université de Rouen), “Le sort des enfants du premier lit en cas de remariage dans l'ancien droit français”

11.15-12.00 Dr Ellinor Forster (Universität Innsbruck), “Remarrying in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Austria With All Impacts on Children's Rights”

12.00-13.30 Lunch/Déjeuner

13.30-14.15 Prof. Sebastiaan Roes (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), "Het nieuw samengestelde gezin in de Noordelijke Nederlanden ten tijde van de Republiek. Van Drentse en Roermondse eenkindschappen en soortgelijke fenomenen"

14.15-15 Dr Emese von Boné (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam), “Vermogenskwesties in nieuw samengestelde gezinnen voor de familieraad (Nederland, 1811-1838)”

15-15.30 Pauze/Pause

15.30-16.15 Prof. Helène Casman (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), “Familles recomposées: comment s'adapte le droit belge des régimes matrimoniaux et des successions?

16.15-17 Prof. Barbara Reinhartz (Universiteit van Amsterdam), “From Traditional Families to Informal Families to Patchwork Families: Can Dutch Succession Law Keep Up With the Changes in Society?

17-17.30 Conclusie/Conclusion
To download the program, click here

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