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Penny Booth: Who said romance was dead?

Date:28 FEB 2012

There's a firm of solicitors in Birmingham offering a not-to-be missed opportunity this week. I could not help but notice that advertising can have its uses - in this case, to demonstrate that advertising per se really is not for everything or everyone. According to this advert, placed prominently on the pavement on a board, if you are ‘not happy' with your partner then all you have to do is call in to see the people in the office and they will talk you through your options.

Options - what can they mean? Murder? Getting the boys round to duff them up a bit? Talk it through with your partner? How bad can that be? Oh, yes, what they (probably) mean is seeing if you can get a divorce and the solicitor help you sort who gets the children and what the finances produce (cynic) - why didn't they just say that in the first place, not enough room in the advert? The local council seem to feel that this approach (it's a one of those pavement adverts stood outside the office in a shopping thoroughfare) is not what people expect and nobody reported in the news seems to think it is a good idea to advertise like this. Personally, I think it's great - after all, it has at least got people thinking about what you should do if you aren't happy with your partner, and it's a perfect reminder for this week's Leap-year encouragement for marriage proposals - think about it.

The French, by tradition the guardians of romance, have the answer this week but only just this time, note. They have concluded (after unlimited and in-depth study) that a more ‘romantic' marriage ceremony gives the newly-partnered a better chance of wedded success - yes, apparently so. I do like the very idea of that, but I also hope that it will not become the basis of the plea for no-expense-spared approaches to weddings themselves because I really do not think that is what the French mean here. Perhaps what the conclusions of this study indicate is that people who plan their living together of whatever kind have more time and space to think about what they are doing before they start married/partnered life. It could be that a more ‘considered' approach to wedded bliss (indeed, to partnered bliss) is more likely to be successful in terms of length and strength of relationship than is one rushed into - perhaps a considered approach helps with any sort of duration of partnership, including marriage. Perhaps I am reading too much into the results found by the French, but to find out whether the decision and ceremony that took a while to plan indicates a good (and happy?) duration or not - now that would be a useful study.

‘Eggs! Free-range, free for all!'                                                                                              

The news that unlimited supplies of human eggs could be ‘made' (not sure what the word is, here) and supplied to the childless (not sure if those are the only recipients, though) does not fill me with anything other than dread for the future. Aldous Huxley and ‘Brave New World' may, alas, have got it right. We human beings always do rush into doing what we think we can, rather than spend time thinking whether we should.

The ease with which such an announcement on human fertilisation can be made does two main things for me: it brings hope (no bad thing in itself) but fails to limit that hope when we have barely managed to contain the free-for-all that such advanced fertility treatment promises, and it makes a mockery of the issue of childlessness and the rush to our rights that technological ‘progress' without ethical consideration has brought.

We have already opened Pandora's Box and now we will be lucky to control what is coming out of it.

Penny Booth is a teaching fellow in family and child law at the University of Manchester Law School. She writes the CPD questions for the Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

Contact Penny on Twitter: @Legalbirdie

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