personal law.The law that governs a person’s family matters, usu. regardless of where the person goes. • In common-law systems, personal law refers to the law of the person’s domicile. In civil-law systems, it refers to the law of the individual’s nationality (and so is sometimes called lex patriae). Cf. TERRITORIAL LAW.

“The idea of the personal law is based on the conception of man as a social being, so that those transactions of his daily life which affect him most closely in a personal sense, such as marriage, divorce, legitimacy, many kinds of capacity, and succession, may be governed universally by that system of law deemed most suitable and adequate for the purpose …. [A]lthough the law of the domicile is the chief criterion adopted by English courts for the personal law, it lies within the power of any man of full age and capacity to establish his domicile in any country he chooses, and thereby automatically to make the law of that country his personal law.” R.H. Graveson, Conflict of Laws 188 (7th ed. 1974).

[Blacks Law 8th]