Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
No right (as yet) to be married legally in a humanist ceremony: R (on the application of Harrison and others) v Secretary of State for Justice [2020] EWHC 2096 (Admin)
Mary Welstead, CAP Fellow, Harvard Law School, Visiting Professor in Family Law, University of BuckinghamIn July 2020, six humanist couples brought an application for judicial review on the...
Controlling and coercive behaviour is gender and colour blind but how are courts meeting the challenge to protect victims
Maryam Syed, 7BRExamining the most recent caselaw in both family and criminal law jurisdictions this article discusses the prominent and still newly emerging issue of controlling and coercive domestic...
Roma families face disadvantage in child protection proceedings
Mary Marvel, Law for LifeWe have all become familiar with the discussion about structural racism in the UK, thanks to the excellent work of the Black Lives Matter movement. But it is less recognised...
The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ – obligations and scope for change
Helen Brander, Pump Court ChambersQuite unusually, two judgments of the High Court in 2020 have considered financial provision for adult children and when and how applications can be made. They come...
Emotional harm and interim removal: how psychological thinking can support practice
Dr Ben Laskey ClinPsyD, AFBPS, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, The Psychology PartnershipGeorge Butler, Barrister at Law, 42 Bedford Row ChambersThe family courts are full of cases involving...
View all articles

Penny Booth: I just can't see the wood for the trees this week

Sep 29, 2018, 17:41 PM
Slug : PennyBooth18022011
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Feb 18, 2011, 06:55 AM
Article ID : 93667

Penny BoothI do see that the government will look at marriage for same sex couples. That will cause something of a stir. When civil partnerships were legislated upon in 2004 the argument to get the legislation through Parliament (one suspects the Lords in particular) was that it wasn't marriage - the latter was retained as a special relationship for heterosexual couples in the context of the religious and cultural forces here and the traditional approach taken in this country - and in many others besides. It either is ‘special', or it's not.        

If the latter, please stop placing my own marriage in an obligated position viz-a-vis ‘family values' and supporting the members of said family. Is it a purely personal relationship, or is it a relationship of inestimable worth to the state and therefore of ‘public property'?  Both positions have implications - socially and legally - and could affect not only how we look at marriage and families and their composition, but how we use the law in respect of them.   

One suspects that civil partnerships would have had a far harder journey through the legislative process without the argument that it was not the same as marriage. I, for one, doubt that it would have been approved at that point otherwise than that differences were emphasised. Instead we ended up with a bit of a dog's breakfast (with apologies to my own, who likes his breakfast anywhere so long as it ends up in his mouth and to his stomach) and plenty of argument following about the recognised rights (Wilkinson v Kitzinger) and equality of legal relationships. Never mind what you call it, it is the rights that matter - that is what got us through the little local difficulty of same sex relationship recognition. Now we've matured, moved on in recognition of different types of relationships, and perhaps it is time to simplify the matter?

Why not abolish section 11 (c) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requiring the parties to a marriage being respectively male and female, save the arguments on the details through Parliament and in the media, and stop wasting time and paper? Let everyone get married in a civil ceremony - none of this silly signing a ‘partnership' because we should make a marriage worth the ‘ceremony' - and have state recognition of a legal union with some ‘oomph' behind it? It is important, and we need to emphasise that for the good of all (yes, you've guessed it, I am a staunch supporter of the importance of legally recognised relationships because if they go wrong the results can be catastrophic and the fallout horrendous). We could save the religious ceremony (the ‘wedding'?) for those who want that element of religion in their lives. The religious element could be voluntary, the state element of marriage compulsory for the legal recognition of a marital union.

How will what we do about cohabitation and the law be affected by this? At this stage, one could say ‘not at all' as I think that whilst we need to recognise that individuals will get themselves into relationships that damage their own lives and financial positions, the extent to which we protect people from themselves is a hard decision about interfering in private lives: yes we should, but it is the extent of state protection for the ‘hopelessly in love' that needs debate and how far we go in that depends on how much heartache and financial cost we might save by doing so.

Lots of other family law issues this week, but ‘marriage' has got to be the vital one right now - if we don't get it right, we will end up with less of  a ‘dog's breakfast' and more of a ‘train wreck'.

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from