Civil partnerships and family law - another shot across the bows


Today's decision in the Supreme Court only serves to underline the calls to modernise the outdated family laws that exist in this country so that they reflect how people choose to arrange their lives in a modern day society.

It is not the first time that our family law has been found to be incompatible with human rights legislation. Back in 2016, the President of the Family Division declared that surrogacy laws discriminated against single parents with children born through surrogacy arrangements.That the Civil Partnership Act 2004, a relatively modern piece of legislation in comparison to most of the legislation still on our books, should now also have been found to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights begs the question as to how long successive governments can continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the ground swell of opinion that family law desperately and urgently needs reform. It is simply no longer fit for purpose. Wholesale reform is needed to cover divorce and consequent financial remedies, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation, civil partnerships, surrogacy and fertility law.

The concern is that, despite growing vocal calls for change and damning indictments from the courts as to the sorry state of our legislation, nothing has changed and the law is becoming ever increasingly removed from 21st century society.

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The judges ruled that current UK law was "incompatible" with human rights laws on discrimination and the right to a private and family life. Announcing the court's decision, Lord Kerr said the government did not seek to justify the difference in treatment between same-sex and different sex couples. "To the contrary, it accepts that the difference cannot be justified," he said.
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