The debate that took place in Austria during the first decades of the 20th Century around the "marriages by dispensation" (Dispensehen) is taken in this essay as a casestudy in order to stress how family law was subject to great political disputes, being in the center of one the most burning political debates of post-War Europe. Those marriages were taken on the basis of a dispensation concerning a previous marriage and actually consisted in a divorce possibility for Catholics. Hans Kelsen, father of the Pure Theory of Law, played a rather unconventional role here, as judge of the highest Austria Justice Court - the Constitutional Court - between 1919 and 1930. Moreover, his position also throws some light over some of his core analysis regarding legal theory, especially related to the State theory (Staatslehre). Through the analysis of the Austrian case, this essay aims at stressing the close relations between canon and civil law, religion, politics and legal culture. The main argument here is that those relations still play a major role in the current debates regarding family law and still constitute the ideological soil upon which the discussions take place nowadays.
Keywords: Hans Kelsen, Austrian Constitutional Court, Family Law, Legal Culture, Religious Culture, Politics