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In the Russian Empire, family law did not constitute an independent area of law and was a part of  civil law. Family relations were handled by the church. Divorces were hard to get and disapproved  of by the church and society. The status of illegitimate children was disfavored; they were not  allowed to have the birth status of their mothers or her last name, to inherit the property of the  mother and her relatives, nor were their mothers and relatives allowed to inherit from them.  Illegitimate children had no right to the father’s financial support or property and could not inherit  from him. The Bolsheviks addressed the issue of family law immediately after coming to power in  1917. Their main goal was to repeal pre-revolutionary regulations and to discontinue the Russian Orthodox Church’s leading role in handling marriages and divorces. The first efforts undertaken by the Bolsheviks in the realm of family law were remarkably progressive, namely simplification of the procedures of marriage and divorce, providing women  with many rights that were non-existent before October of 1917, elimination of the concept of  illegitimacy, and granting the children of unmarried couples rights equal to those of children of  officially married parents. In 1920, Soviet Russia became the first state to legalize abortions. Sadly, most positive developments of the early Bolshevik years disappeared in the 1930s–1940s.  Family law followed the general pattern of escalation of repression and strengthening of regulations.

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Independent Scholar
United States

Independent Scholar

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For citation:

MISHINA E. SOVIET FAMILY LAW : WOMEN AND CHILD CARE (FROM 1917 TO THE 1940s). Russian Law Journal. 2017;5(4):69-92.

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ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)