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Diverse family law

Erik Mägi

Swedish family legislation is based on a conservative family ideal, where marriage between a woman and a man is the norm. Consequently, family law is often unnecessarily complicated for those with different family situations. The new book, Stjärnfamiljejuridik [Legal Regulation of Diverse Families] helps explore the concept.

The Swedish term Stjärnfamilj, that translates literally as “Star family”, was launched as an inclusive term for all forms of diverse families. The book is already being used by law students and out in the profession. Last year, Erik Mägi and co-author Lina-Lea Zimmerman received a prize for their book.

“There was no combined knowledge source for what applies to different families, such as parenthood for transgendered people,” says Erik Mägi.

Who are parents exactly?

Erik Mägi is currently researching the topic further. In his thesis project, he examines how the law establishes parenthood, and the connection between legislation and our social norms. Erik Mägi elucidates:

“Families that follow the norms are covered by simple legislation and predictable regulations. However, the more these social norms are broken, the more complicated legislation becomes”.

When the majority is an exception

One primary regulation in the Swedish Children and Parents Code states that if the mother is married to a man, he is deemed to be the child’s father. Yet today, this only applies to around one-third of the children born in Sweden. Does legislation help maintain norms that are no longer a social matter of course?

Erik Mägi believes there is a clear connection, and that sometimes, legislation must undergo review because it is so complicated. However, change may be in reach.

“Many people believe the legislation to be out-dated, so we must rectify this. It is just a matter of time,” says Erik Mägi.


Erik Mägi is a doctoral student in private law and teaches family law, labour law, discrimination law, and law in practice. He is also conducting a review of the Master of Laws programme from a norm-critical perspective.

This is an article from the School's Magazine 2017
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