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Law-making in Jordan: Family Law Reform and the Supreme Justice Department

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Using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice as a theoretical framework, I establish links between the structure of the Jordanian legal system, processes of reforming family law between 2001 and 2010, and the development of the content of family law. The dāʾirat qāḍī al-quḍāt, the Supreme Justice Department (SJD), is a state institution that enjoys considerable autonomy in overseeing the sharīʿa courts that apply Islamic family law. As the Jordanian king chose not to participate in the reform process, the SJD came to dominate the reform process, which concluded with the issuing of the 2010 family law. Its control over the reform process allowed it to influence the content of the law. This article is based on semi-structured interviews as well as written sources such as Jordanian family laws, procedural laws, minutes of parliamentary debates, royal speeches, and relevant statistics.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law


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