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Penny Booth: After the Lord Mayor's Show...

Date:17 MAY 2011

Penny BoothWell, after the great excitement of the Royal Wedding comes the pondering... will they, won't they? Did they? Should they? Prenups, of course. Perhaps no-one has been brave enough to explore the possibility of the ‘Royal Prenup' - or maybe the Duke of Cambridge got put off prenups after his mother's divorce settlement. Pity - if they are good enough for royalty we might have seen an upsurge of interest in prenuptial agreements with (my hope in particular) people who are intending to marry actually thinking about the possibilities of the implications of legal handcuffs before they get legally tied together. Thinking through the lovey-dovey haze would help many in the future. Cynics unite.

I heard this morning (on Radio 4, so it must be reliable) that being married for a long time (no specific time recommended, but a long, long time, possibly decades, was in mind) gives the psychological benefit of an annual salary of 65,000 pounds. Wow!!! I wonder if the possibility of trading some of the psychological benefit for some of that money instead could be arranged? Apart from the personal, are there any still advantages to being legally tied? Discuss.

Since I think that the older members of our society and their legal concerns are part of family law, I'm going to comment on the proposals for Alzheimer's tests for all over 60s. Most Alzheimer's sufferers are older members of society. Their care is delicate yet must be robust, the effect on loved ones can be devastating. The introduction of early signs testing is being proposed by Government scientists who are keen to reduce the numbers of people consigned to misery as they get older and the symptoms of Alzheimer's kick-in leaving them without care and treatment to reduce the effects. Well, just so long as euthanasia is not being proposed as a ‘solution' to what could be an expensive reduction in too-late diagnosis, I would be broadly in favour of this, subject to some conditions.

Why expensive? Well, if you are going to test to find out who may suffer from the condition, then you need to do something with the information. Hopefully the intention is to provide treatment that reduces the effects for as long as possible           (I hope that the funding is there to do it).

One aspect of this concerns me (well, just the one for now...) and that is the position with insurance. All sorts of insurance policies relating to health care are around now, and they limit liability for all sorts of conditions. The trouble with predictive tests is that once taken (even more if positively predicted) they have to be declared for insurance purposes. One finds that insurance costs rarely go down, but frequently go up. Cover can be withdrawn completely in the case of eventualities that insurance companies do not wish to cover. Where will that leave those tested as possible (future) sufferers from Alzheimer's? Like historical leprosy, the bell-ringing is likely to get deafening on this one. I will save my ‘hurrahs' for when some funding and action is announced with help for our families and the elderly. 

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.

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