This chapter begins by suggesting that family law consists of a number of hybrids: of normative closure and openness, of doctrinal and regulatory components, and of dispute settlement and behaviour-steering impulses. It suggests that the high level of responsiveness displayed by family law to its political and economic environment, as well as to the varying needs of individuals, poses a potential threat to its coherence. It explores the difficulties associated with measuring effectiveness, in the light of widespread disagreement about what the purposes of the law are. It also argues that the language of regulation, and of regulation by a meta-system of different internal subsystems, may prove to be a fruitful way forward. In practical terms, that means thinking harder about how the normative messages are expressed and communicated in family law systems.
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