European Court of Human Rights and right to respect for family life: the role of the best interests of the child in establishing equality between divorced parents

  • Kyriaki Patsianta
Keywords: best interests of the child, European Court of Human Rights, right to respect for family life, divorce, equality, discrimination


This article discusses the European concept of the best interests of the child forged by the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning family life. The Strasbourg Court does not determine in a detailed way all the aspects of the child’s best interests in a case presented before it. It forges its minimum content while the Member States are free to complete its construction.This European minimum content contains two branches: the conceptual principles and the methods of evaluation. An analysis on specific judgments of the Court regarding equality between divorced parents in parental rights allocation provides a concrete example of how these two branches are constructed by it. The alleged discriminatory treatment relates to issues like religion, sexual orientation, transsexualism.


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Author Biography

Kyriaki Patsianta

Kyriaki Patsianta is a Barrister in Greece. She specializes in European Human Rights Law, in children’s rights in particular.

She holds a master's degree and a PhD degree in European Human Rights Law, both from the University of Montpellier 1 (France).

She is currently participating as key external non-academic partner in an ESRC-funded project, led by the University of Exeter(United Kingdom), on the protection of migrant children’s rights.