AbstractThis contribution suggests that important historical changes in national sovereignty and territory may influence national family ideology. The study is a comparison between Denmark, Norway and Sweden and it offers an explanation as to the differences in national ideologies in Scandinavia. Denmark is liberal compared to Norway and Sweden. The objective is to develop a historical perspective in family law studies. Firstly, a simple account is given of two family law issues, prior to contextualizing them with other family law issues and public policy to suggest the influence of history as an ‘invisible power’ in family law. Hereby two disciplines are connected: family law and history.