1st Edition

Children, the Law and the Welfare Principle European Judicial Perspectives

By Kerry O'Halloran Copyright 2024

    This book continues the themes addressed by its five predecessors in this series by examining the role of the principle of the welfare interests of the child as addressed in international legislation and by international courts.

    It provides a record of the key cases in the development of the principle as articulated primarily by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and complemented by rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC). It identifies and assesses themes arising from the many decades of ECtHR cases dealing with issues affecting the welfare interests and rights of children as referred to the Court from the 46 Member States that comprise the Council of Europe. By differentiating between the functions of the welfare principle and those of children’s rights – in the public (care, protection, and control), in the private (matrimonial, adoption, etc.), and in the hybrid (adoption from state care, etc.) sectors of family law – it reveals how the law relating to children is changing across Europe. By examining the international framework of legislation and related caselaw it identifies and assesses the themes in that law as they have unfolded over time.

    In addition to a digest of international cases and legislation – that identifies and tracks the role of the welfare principle and the emerging rights of children – lawyers, academics, and other researchers will find a wealth of information on how the law has evolved to reflect corresponding changes in social mores. For those interested in politics and social policy, there is much illuminating evidence on how the law has balanced this principle relative to others – such as proportionality and subsidiarity – within both civil and criminal contexts.



    Part I: The international legal framework

    1. International legislation    

    2. International courts and regulatory bodies    

    3. International human rights, the welfare interests of the child and the ECtHR         

    Part II: Themes in international court rulings: Private family law                        

    4. Founding a family                          

    5. Family life       

    6. Family breakdown    

    Part III: Themes in international court rulings: Public family law: civil jurisdiction

    7. State intervention: Consensual  

    8. State intervention: Coercive     


    Part IV: Themes in international court rulings: Public family law: criminal jurisdiction

    9. Child offenders      


    Part V: Themes in international court rulings: Public/private family law: hybrid jurisdiction

    10. Public services, commercial surrogacy, abduction and adoption from care  



    Kerry O’Halloran, a professionally qualified lawyer, social worker, and academic, has recently retired from 13 years as Adjunct Professor to the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at QUT, Brisbane. In Northern Ireland, he served on the Social Care Tribunal and on a HSS Trust Adoption Panel. He has advised the Irish government on law reform matters, and has served in a consultancy capacity to government bodies such as Courts Services (Northern Ireland) and to the Open University in England. His 34 books include many on national and international child care matters.